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New Delhi: The Telangana high court on Friday ordered a magisterial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of the Saidapa rape-and-murder accused Pallakonda Raju.
Raju, who allegedly raped and killed a six-year-old girl in Hyderabad, was found dead on a railway track on Thursday. The Telangana police claimed that he had died by suicide.
The court ordered the inquiry after hearing a petition filed by activists who had raised suspicions over the circumstances that led to Raju’s death, according to The News Minute. The probe will be conducted by the third metropolitan magistrate in Warangal and the report must be submitted within four weeks. According to reports, the police and Raju’s family members will attend the inquiry.
The rape and murder of the six-year-old girl in Saidabad occurred on September 9. While the police searched for Raju, he could apparently not be traced. On Thursday, the police said he was found dead on the tracks at Station Ghanpur, near Warangal.
Activists have cast doubt on the police’s version, since it was preceded by comments from a minister that the rape-and-murder accused would be killed in a staged encounter. According to The News Minute, the Women and Transgender Organisations Joint Action Committee (WT-JAC) met Telangana high court acting Chief Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and submitted a memorandum that called for an investigation into Raju’s death.
They also wanted the court to direct the police not to cremate the body before a special team of forensic experts and autopsy surgeons can conduct an independent post-mortem, as per the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)’s guidelines.
Before the petition could be heard, the body of the accused was cremated in Warangal on Thursday night. A post-mortem was conducted in the city’s Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) hospital. A copy of the report will be handed over to the Warangal district judge on Saturday, which will be forwarded to the Telangana high court.
According to The News Minute, Meera Sangahmitra, who is part of WT-JAC, said that the “hurried manner” in Raju’s body was cremated on Thursday by the Telangana police, if seen together with conflicting official reports of his arrest, is “highly suspicious”.
“The allegations of Raju’s mother, wife and sister that this is a case of ‘police killing’ raise grave questions on the role of the law enforcement authorities and the due processes followed. This needs a comprehensive inquiry by the State High Court as well as the National Human Rights Commission,” she said.
In late 2019, police in Hyderabad killed four accused in another high-profile rape-and-murder case in an alleged encounter. A judicial inquiry panel, set up by the Supreme Court, is now probing the ‘encounter’.