HYDERABAD: The families of the slain accused in the 25-year-old woman veterinarian's gang-rape and murder case will have to wait longer to conduct their last rites as the bodies were preserved on the direction of Telangana High Court.
The court, at an emergency hearing late on Friday evening, directed the authorities to preserve the bodies till December 9 when Chief Justice R.S. Chauhan will take up hearing of a petition filed by various rights' groups, seeking comprehensive probe into 'extra-judicial killings' at the hands of police.
The two truck drivers and two cleaners, who allegedly gang-raped and killed the veterinarian on November 27, were killed in an alleged 'encounter' by the police at Chatanpally near Shadnagar early Friday.
After conducting autopsy on all four bodies at the government-run hospital in Mahabubnagar town on Friday night, the bodies were preserved at mortuary.
Police made elaborate security arrangements at the hospital premises by deploying armed personnel and erecting barricades on approaching roads.
A fact-finding team of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is likely to visit the hospital later on Saturday to see the bodies and gather details from officials concerned and forensic experts.
After the visit by NHRC team, the bodies may be shifted to Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad as Mahabubnagar hospital lacks the facilities to preserve the bodies for a longer duration.
The families of the slain accused were waiting at the hospital to receive the bodies when the High Court intervened to direct the authorities to preserve the bodies till Monday. It also asked the government to videograph the autopsy.
Advocate General B.S. Prasad told the High Court that a team of forensic experts from Hyderabad's Gandhi Hospital conducted the autopsy and the entire process was videographed.
The court directed that the video be handed over to Mahabubnagar district judge, who in turn will submit the same to the bench.
After Friday's encounter, the police had brought some relatives of the deceased from their villages in Narayanpet district to Mahabubnagar to handover the bodies after autopsy. However, the process came to a halt following High Court's intervention.
Police forces were deployed in the villages of the slain accused.
Arrangements were also made for the last rites as the police were keen to complete the process late on Friday night in the presence of few relatives to prevent any untoward incident.
The four accused killed in the encounter were lorry drivers Mohammed Pasha alias Arif, Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu and lorry cleaners Jollu Shiva and Jollu Naveen. Arif was 26-year-old while the remaining were all aged 20.
They were all arrested on November 29, two days after the gruesome rape and murder of the veterinarian. According to police, they kidnapped the victim and sexually assaulted her near Outer Ring Road at Shamshabad on the outskirts of Hyderabad. They later carried the body to Chatanpally near Shadnagar town and set it afire.
Police claimed that the accused attacked the police personnel when they were taken to Chatanpally to recover victim's mobile phone and other objects. Two of the accused allegedly snatched weapons from police and opened fire. Police claimed that all four were killed in retaliatory fire.