HYDERABAD: Former Cyberabad police commissioner VC Sajjanar was quizzed by the apex-court appointed panel investigating the "encounter killing" of four men accused in the gang rape and murder of a young veterinarian in Hyderabad in December 2019.
The panel headed by Justice VS Sirpurkar took serious note of the submissions made by Sajjanar, who is currently managing director of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC), in connection with the extra-judicial killings. In the course of the questioning, the panel asked Sajjanar why he treated the sensational crime as a street crime.
Sajjanar informed the three-member panel that he didn't give permission to Shadnagar Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) V Surender to keep the four men accused in the case in a safe place at Ravi Guest House in Mirjaguda during their police custody.
Sajjanar, who was known as an "encounter specialist," informed the panel that his office was informed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Shamshabad instructing to utilise a safe house to keep the accused. He denied having granted permission even after his attention was drawn to a document that mentioned, "Commissioner of Police gave permission to keep the accused in a safe place at Mirjaguda Ravi Guest House."
Sajjanar said that he was not aware when the accused were shifted from prison to the safehouse during police custody and added that DCP Shamshabad had only informed him about this.
Further, he claimed, "I was not aware that the accused were interrogated at the safehouse and about the second confession of all the accused. I was also not aware that the accused were taken out for crime scene reconstruction and recovery of articles belonging to the victim."
Sajjanar told the commission that at 6:20 am on December 6, 2019, DCP Shamshabad informed him that the accused were taken for recovery of articles, and during the process, there was an exchange of fire.
When asked if he had instructed anyone against informing the judicial magistrate about the firing incident and against disturbing the bodies of the accused till the judicial magistrate completes the inquest, he said that DCP Shamshabad had informed him that the magistrate was informed.
When asked to show the guidelines, he said, as per the advice from the legal advisors of Cyberabad Commissionerate, the inquest had to be conducted by the Executive Magistrate in custodial death cases, so they went ahead with it.
Further in response to the questions, Sajjanar said that it is not the first encounter in Telangana and though he was not aware of the exact number, in all cases, the inquest was conducted by an Executive Magistrate.
The panel asked him why he treated the sensational crime as a street crime.
"You stated that you didn't monitor the investigation and were confined to taking only morning briefings from the DCP. Even though there is an Investigating Officer (IO), as the commissioner, the public, government, everybody looks to you for maintaining order and also prevention and detection of crime. That being so, how can you say that you had treated such a sensational crime as a street crime," the commission asked.
"It is not correct. As a chief of police, my job is to aid and supplement my officers in the investigation. As a part of it, I have given them a free hand by having their own teams. A DCP is for all purposes, like an SP in districts," Sajjanar replied.
He also stated that he addressed the press during the arrest of the accused in the rape and murder case and after their death on December 6, 2019, only on the request of DCP Shamshabad. He added that he did not mention in the press meet that the accused allegedly snatched weapons from a CI and SI and that they were unlocked at the time of the incident.
Sajjanar also said that he made the statement on the press briefing from DCP Shamshabad. "I did not enquire from the CI and SI, but in the initial inquiry, the DCP must have ascertained it," he said.