Soon after the Hyderabad encounter, netizens quickly started sharing a photograph that was claimed to be that from the actual crime scene. “Finally, justice has been done. All four accused in Hyderabad vet rape and murder case shot dead #Encounter,” captioned a user on Twitter along with the photo. She was not the only one. There were several users on Facebook and Twitter who shared the photo as that of Hyderabad encounter. In the photo, four bodies can be seen lying on the ground with policemen looking over. In fact, apart from general public, some news channels also took the photo and reported it as site of Hyderabad encounter or ‘first visuals’ of Hyderabad encounter.
However, the reality of the photo is not what is being claimed on social media. The truth is that the photograph is actually from a different encounter in which policemen had gunned down 20 sandalwood smugglers in 2015. A simple search on the internet shows several news articles dating back to 2015, where the photo has been used. In 2015, twenty woodcutters from Tamil Nadu were killed in an alleged encounter in the Seshachalam forest at the foot of the Tirumala hills.
In fact, then Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had also chaired a high-level review meeting over the encounter. He had also spoken over the phone with then Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Governor ESL Narasimhan and briefed them on the incident.
Meanwhile, the Telangana High Court on Friday directed the state government to preserve bodies of the four suspects in Hyderabad veterinarian rape and murder case, who were shot dead in police custody earlier today. The Hyderabad police had taken the four men arrested in connection with the veterinarian’s rape and murder case to the scene where the victim’s charred body was found.
The High Court gave the order on a representation received in the office of the Chief Justice, requesting judicial intervention into the incident, alleging it was an extra judicial killing. "We further direct that the dead bodies of the four deceased/accused/suspects who were killed in the encounter be preserved by the State till 8:00 PM on December 9,” the High Court division bench said.
The police said that they attacked them with sticks and snatched their weapons, following which an "encounter" broke out between them. They all were killed in the "crossfire". However, questions were raised on their killings with several lawyers and human rights activists criticised police for what it appeared to them was not an "encounter" but "extra judicial killings".