Commissioner Vishwanath Sajjanar, Common Link in 2008 Warangal Killing & 2019 Hyderabad Encounter
Vishwanath C Sajjanar, the Cyberabad police commissioner, was SP in Warangal police when three men accused of an acid attack were gunned down in an alleged encounter in 2008.
Policemen stand guard in the area where the four rape accused were shot in Shadnagar, around 50 km from Hyderabad, on December 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)
Bengaluru: Vishwanath C Sajjanar, the Cyberabad Police Commissioner whose men on Friday killed four alleged rapists arrested last week for the rape and murder of a veterinarian, is not new to encounters. A 1996-batch IPS from undivided Andhra Pradesh cadre, Sajjanar is a native of Hubli in neighbouring Karnataka.
In the second week of December 2008, Warangal district police had gunned down three youths in their 20s a few hours after they were caught in an acid attack case. S Srinivas Rao, the main accused, and his two associates, P Harikrishna and B Sanjay, were shot dead by the police.
The trio had allegedly attacked two students of Kakatiya Institute of Technology and Science in Warangal for rejecting Srinivas' proposal. Similar to the outrage after the recent Hyderabad rape and murder, pressure was mounting on the police in 2008 to deliver instant justice.
Sajjanar had defended the encounter, claiming that all three accused had tried to attack the police with a country-made gun when they were taken to the crime spot to reconstruct the scene. After some hue and cry over the ‘encounter’, the issue was given a quiet burial.
Undivided Andhra Pradesh has a notorious history of encounters. The state witnessed several of them during the height of the Naxal movement from 1970s to 1990s. The encounters came to a sudden halt after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), courts, civil society and media started questioning the killings.
An infamous encounter in Hyderabad in recent times was that of five alleged terrorists, including Viqaruddin Ahmed, founder of local militant group Tehreek-Ghalba-e-Islam, in 2015. They were being taken to a court in Hyderabad from Warangal central prison in connection with their case.
The ‘encounter’ took place near Janagaon when the terrorists allegedly tried to flee after attacking the police escorting them. After some protests by human rights groups, the issue was closed.
That same year, another heinous ‘encounter’ took place neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
Around 20 red sandalwood smugglers were gunned down near Chandragiri in Chittoor district. According to the police, around 500 smugglers and wood cutters had attacked them when the special task force police tried to arrest them in a forest.
As protests mounted and the courts asked police to justify their action, the truth started trickling in.
The postmortem report revealed that some of those dead were shot at close range. Most of them were labourers from neighbouring Tamil Nadu. It was alleged that some of them were pulled off a bus and shot dead in cold blood.
The NHRC and High Court had ordered a thorough probe into the incident.
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