As the common people continue to cheer what appears to be a staged encounter by the Telangana police of all the four accused in the brutal rape and murder of a woman veterinarian, we as a nation must ponder over this incident with emotional sentience. Remaining adrift from the debates and the binaries of right or wrong around what transpired, let’s just analyse if it was really “just” as per the doctrines of natural justice.

Imagine the harrowing brutality the woman veterinarian was made to suffer. Her only fault was her being a woman in this society and culture, nurtured by patriarchy and toxic masculinity. Being a veterinarian by profession, she used to crusade tirelessly for the most voiceless and the most marginalised—the animals. On the fateful night, she was abducted when her two-wheeler broke down, and gang raped several times. The accused didn’t stop with this; they then tried to strangle her multiple times, only to set her ablaze in the end when she was most probably alive. The pictures we saw in the media narrate the chilling tale of this barbaric crime. Imagine the pain, trauma and horror she was going through before her tragic end.

Is it even possible to fathom what she must have felt during those extremely painful and tragic moments? The physical and mental trauma she was subjected to, only because she was a woman. In this light, can we really conclude that the encounter that followed was justice? Does a swift death by a bullet really do real justice to the accused in this case? This is nothing but an easy getaway for those criminals and an even easier escape for the Telangana police, who first failed in providing and ensuring the woman’s security and then staged a visibly fake encounter, only to ensure a comparatively trivial punishment to the accused.

I feel these men deserved much more than this—something similar to what was inflicted upon their unsuspecting victim. Their real punishment would have been if an equivalent level of physical and mental suffering was extorted upon them over a longer duration—which would have served two extremely valuable purposes. First, subjecting the perpetrators of this evil act to a proportionate level of suffering and pain would guide their subconscious towards a corrective realisation and maybe some amount of experiential guilt. Second, the harshness of such a sentence would act as a deterrent for such crimes in the future, by sending a clear message to sexual predators roaming freely in society—that if they choose to take such a path, their life would be agonizingly painful and torturous.

However, I believe this punishment should be given only by the judiciary, so that everyone is satisfied in knowing that the criminals are undoubtedly proved guilty and not just used as an escape goat by the authorities for winning over the praise of the media. The courts must speed up the trial system and immediately punish the criminals. If this part is not corrected, my apprehensions are that in future cases, the police will again take the law into their own hands and it’s quite possible an innocent person could be caught, punished or even killed.

Deana Uppal is an entrepreneur and Miss India UK.