In a country like India where women are considered no less than a goddess, which can be deciphered from a famous sloka- “Yatra Naryastu Pujyante Ramante Tatra Devata” taken from Manusmriti (an ancient legal text in India), rape is the fourth most common crime against women. NCRB The latest example of this hypocrisy is the horrendous sexual assault and burning of a young Indian veterinary doctor Priyanka Reddy from Telangana, which has shocked the nation.
An Incident that Shook the Conscience of Humanity
The 27-year old Dr. Priyanka Reddy, a veterinary doctor from Shamshabad in Hyderabad was a native of Hyderabad, Telangana. On 27 November 2019, she was returning to her home after completing her duties in a hospital in Kolluru Village near Shadnagar in Hyderabad, where she had been working for the past one year. On her way, she was brutally raped and murdered by four men. The next day, police found her half-burnt dead body, 30 km away from Shadnagar, below an underpass. Reportedly, the accused forced her to drink alcohol before raping her. The accused purchased one full bottle, and another half bottle of whiskey, a litre of soft drink and snacks from a wine shop in Tondupally village, close to the toll plaza. After dragging her into an open plot, they forced her to consume the alcohol-laced soft drink, and as she became semi-conscious, they raped and killed her. Inquiries also revealed that before raping her, they hit with a solid object on the left rear portion of her head; leaving her unconscious. Then, they repeatedly raped her one-by-one.
A Filthy Trap
Reportedly, the four accused involved in this inhuman act had first gained her confidence on the pretext of helping her before assaulting her. According to the Cyberabad Police Commissioner V. C. Sajjanar, the accused first noticed her and hatched a plan when she had parked her red Hero Maestro scooter at the ORR toll plaza at Tondupally and took a shared cab to a clinic in Gachibowli. They discussed this plan while consuming alcohol in their lorry. One of the accused came up with the idea of deflating her scooty’s tyre so that she wouldn’t be able to leave. When she returned to the toll plaza to get her scooter, strangers told her she had a flat tire. According to the police, the perpetrators might have punctured Priyanka’s scooty deliberately. Reportedly, the prime suspect, Areef had approached her to help in repairing the puncture, another suspect, Jollu Shiva had taken her scooter to the repair shop; however, he returned saying all shops were closed. Even before she could respond, the accused dragged her for about 15 metres into the open plot off the road.
Her last call to her sister shows how the strangers had confronted her moving ahead citing that she would be in trouble due to her scooter’s flat tyre. In the call that lasted for 6 minutes 45 seconds, the veterinary doctor was heard speaking normally except when she said that she was feeling scared; as she was stranded at a spot where there were a lot of unknown men and a number of loaded trucks parked. During the conversation with her sister on the phone, the veterinary doctor said,
I started my bike, but they started shouting from behind saying madam your tyre is flat and you cannot go ahead. Though I thought that I can get it repaired at the bus stand, they did not allow me to go ahead. They made me get down and sent a boy to repair it. But he also returned saying all shops were closed.”
Her sister told her to walk to the nearest toll gate and wait there. She had even told Priyanka to abandon the two-wheeler.
She said, I even asked her to come away leaving the vehicle. When I called after some time, her phone was switched off.”
The Last Hours
After repeatedly raping her one-by-one, one of the accused held her legs while the other one smothered and gagged her, killing her on the spot. Thereafter, they removed the number plate of her scooty and dumped her body in the cabin of their truck and left. Reportedly, two accused were in the truck while the other two followed on her scooty. Around 10:20 pm on the night of 27 November 2019, they took a u-turn after the toll plaza and headed towards Shadnagar. They travelled to Chatanpally where they dumped her dead body. After failing to get petrol in an empty bottle from two petrol pumps, they finally succeeded at a petrol pump near Kothur. Thereafter, they stopped near the culvert at Chatanpally. Then, the accused wrapped her body in a blanket and carried it under the culvert where they set it afire using petrol and diesel and left. Reportedly, two accused named Shiva and Naveen returned to the spot after a while to ensure the body was completely burnt. After the interrogation of the accused, the police came out with more chilling details regarding the brutal rape and murder of Priyanka. Reportedly, the four accused continued to rape her inside the cabin of a lorry even after she had died.
From One Police Station to Another
After Priyanka’s phone went switched off around 9.44 pm on the night of the incident, her parents rushed to the toll-plaza to search for her. Later, they inquired at the shops, at the toll plaza and searched in the surrounding areas, and then lodged a police complaint when they could not locate her. Her family has accused the Telangana Police of delaying to take prompt action. In a media interaction, the family told the reporters present that the police could have saved her only if they acted on time. They also told that rather than helping them, they were made to run pillar to post between different police stations and wait for several hours before two constables were given as ride alongs to search for their missing daughter. While sharing the details of how the authorities failed to locate their daughter, the victim’s father, a government employee, said,
The emotionally devastated father also said,
Whoever has done this needs to be hanged to death.”
A Milkman Found Her Body
On the morning of 28 November 2019 (Thursday), a milkman named Shamala Satyam, first noticed fire underneath a culvert; however, he passed by thinking it was a bonfire. While returning back on the same path, he noticed a raised handlike part and alerted the villagers who later informed the police.
Identification of Her Body
After the police reached the spot where Priyanka’s charred body was found, they called Priyanka’s family to identify the charred body at Chattanpally Sub Road in Shadnagar, 25 km away from where she went missing. With the help of a scarf, a Ganesha locket, and a buckle, the family could identify the charred body as that of Reddy’s.
The Arrest of the Accused
On 29 November 2019, two days after the horrific incident, the Cyberabad Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar briefed the media that the four men involved in the rape and murder of the veterinary doctor had been traced and nabbed. The accused were identified as Mohammed Pasha (the prime accused), a lorry driver who belongs to Narayanpet in Mahabubnagar. The other three, all aged 20, were cleaners J Shiva and J Naveen, and a driver, C Chennakeshavulu a.k.a. Chenna. All were residents of Makthal in Narayanpet district.
A Reminder of the Nirbhaya Case
The brutal rape and murder of the 27-year old veterinary doctor reminded the gruesome rape and murder of a 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern Nirbhaya who was gang-raped on 16 December 2012 in Delhi.
A Trending News on Social Media
Soon after the news of Priyanka’s brutal murder broke, various social media platforms stormed with #RIPPriyankaReddy, which remained top trending news on Twitter for several hours.
The social media platforms flooded with condemnation of such inhuman acts and some even taunted with the slogans that animals are better than we humans.
A Huge Public Outrage
A huge public outrage took place in the country over the gang-rape and murder of a 27-year-old woman, with protesters taking to the streets and politicians calling for the offenders to be “lynched.” The protestors across the country demanded a fast-track investigation in the Hyderabad case.
While speaking in the parliament, the Defence Minister of India, Rajnath Singh, said,
This act has brought shame to the entire country, it has hurt everyone.”
Jaya Bachchan, an MP and former Bollywood actor who has been a vocal proponent of women’s rights, was among those who spoke out. She said in the parliament,
I know it sounds harsh, but these kinds of people should be brought out in public and lynched.”
An Encounter that Culminated the Case
On the morning of 6 December 2019, the nation awoke with the news of the encounter of all the four accused in the 2019 Hyderabad Gang Rape & Murder Case. The social media erupted in praise for the Cyberabad Police Commissioner, VC Sajjanar, after all the four accused- Mohammad Ali alias Mohammad Arif, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen Kumar, and Chintakunta Chenna Keshavulu were killed in an encounter after they tried to flee while they were being taken to the murder site. In a pre-dawn encounter, the Cyberabad Police shot dead all the four suspects of the veterinarian’s rape and murder case. Reportedly, around 3 am on 6 December 2019, the police open fire on them on the National Highway 4 near Hyderabad at the very same place where the charred body of the 27-year-old victim was found. The police had taken the accused to the spot for the recreation of the crime scene. According to the police, soon after the arrival at the spot, the accused started stoning cops in order to escape and even after a repeated warning to surrender, the accused didn’t follow the instructions; forcing the police to encounter them. Deccan Herald
“My Daughter’s Soul at Peace Now”
Soon after the news about the encounter of the four accused in the 2019 Hyderabad Gang Rape & Murder erupted, the victim’s father said that he was very happy, and he thanked the police and the Telangana Government for it. Reacting to the news of the encounter, the father of the veterinarian said,
It has been 10 days since the day my daughter died. I express my gratitude towards the police and government for this. My daughter’s soul must be at peace now.”
The Horrendous Timeline
27 November 2019 (Wednesday)
- 3:50 pm– The veterinary doctor left the hospital at Kollur.
- 5:30 pm– She reached home from work and within 20 minutes, she left for an appointment at another hospital in Gachibowli.
- 6:20 pm– Parked her red Hero Maestro scooty near the ORR toll plaza at Tondupally.
- 9:00 pm– Returned to the toll plaza to get her scooty.
- 9:20 pm– Spotted crossing the road towards her scooty.
- 9:22 pm– Called her sister on the phone.
- 9:44 pm– Her cellphone was found switched off.
- 10:20 pm– When her sister called her again, the phone was switched off.
28 November 2019 (Thursday)
- 1:00 am– A missing person’s complaint was filed at Shamshabad police station.
- 5:15 am– Shamala Satyam, a milkman, first noticed fire underneath a culvert and passed by thinking it was a bonfire set up by some farmers.
- 6:45 am– While the same milkman was returning back on the same path, he noticed a raised handlike part and went to investigate, which turned out to be the charred body of the 27-year old veterinary doctor.