Plainclothes police officers in drunken state, no search warrant and vehicles without number plates – Jaspur BJP leader Gurtaj Singh Bhullar, whose wife Gurpreet (32) was shot dead during a robbery two days ago, a police team from Uttar Pradesh in their hometown of Bharatpur in Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand made serious allegations against the police officers.
Even as UP police allege that the woman was killed in crossfire between their team and Jaffar, a man accused of illegal sand mining whom they were chasing, Bhullar insists the police fabricated a story to justify the murder.
A day earlier, the Kumaon DIG, Nilesh Anand Bharne, had also said that the UP personnel had not informed the local police and were not in uniform. And a forensics officer who inspected the site had said they had found no evidence of crossfires, as suggested by the UP Police.
Speak with The Indian ExpressBhullar, BJP’s district chief (pramukh) in Jaspur tehsil, recalled the series of events on Wednesday, when he had gone to Noida for a party rally and returned around 4:00 pm.
“My wife had also returned from work in the evening. I was asleep when I learned that 10-12 men, who claimed to be UP police officers, had raided our house in pursuit of a man called Jaffar, who they thought had found shelter here,” he said.
Bhullar said the men had arrived in two cars – a Scorpio and a Sumo – and were armed.
“Everything happened between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The cars had no license plates and the windows were tinted. They were dressed in civilian clothes, had no search warrants and could not provide identification. There was no female policewoman accompanying them. The police officers went to the first floor and burst into the rooms where my wife, sister-in-law and children were. I stopped them and told them to inform the Uttarakhand police at the local police station (Kunda) first. But they were drunk and started abusing. Only a few relatives and some cousins were at home at the time. I tried to reason with them and brought down six-seven of them to discuss the matter. Suddenly I heard someone shout, ‘Didi has been shot,’ he said.
Bhullar said that when he went up, he saw that his wife had been shot in the chest. “One of the police officers had shot her by the stairs on the first floor.
They fired 3-4 gunshots and one hit her. We rushed my wife to a hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival,” he said.
According to Bhullar, some police officers escaped in one of the cars after hearing the shots. “Later I heard that the villagers caught four UP police officers and handed them over to the custody of SHO Kunda Police Station here. Their car (the Sumo), which was parked in front of the house, is at the police station,” he said.
Bhullar said the four police officers were taken to the Kashipur civilian hospital by the Uttarakhand police, but they “managed” to escape there.
“They knew they had committed murder and were drunk, and a medical examination at the hospital would have confirmed this. To prevent this, they escaped from the hospital,” he claimed.
Bhullar denied the UP police’s claim of crossfire in which two police officers reportedly suffered gunshot wounds. “The CCTV footage from Kashipur Civil Hospital shows them climbing stairs and running to escape. If they were injured, why didn’t they seek treatment and undergo a medical examination? There was no shooting at the house,” he said.
Speaking of the family’s claim that four police officers managed to escape from the hospital, the Kumaon DIG said: “It was an evolving situation… At the time, the circumstances of the case were not clear. It wasn’t like they were running away. The focus was on treating the injured and a (Uttarakhand) police officer had taken them to hospital and he was overpowered.” he said.
Bhullar said the UP police had fabricated a story to avert the blame and a… FIR in Moradabad to frame them. “I have no affiliation with Jaffar. His brother-in-law works with me as a member of the block development committee. At his request, I had met Jaffar a fortnight ago and he had sought help alleging that the UP police had framed him in a case of illegal mining in Thakurdwara. He was not in the house when the incident took place… I have no involvement in mining. I have been working with the BJP for ten years and we have over 30 hectares of land for agriculture. My cousin, who stays with us, runs a rock crusher in Ajitpur, but it is legal and according to standards.”
Calling for a CBI investigation into the incident, Bhullar said: “I have two young children – a 5 year old daughter and a 4 month old son. I have lost everything… Ek toh parivar ujad gaya, upar se ab humare upar mukadme lag rahe hein (I lost my family and now we are facing legal action). Ye kahan ka insaaf hai? I am a blokpramukh of the BJP. The BJP government rules in both states… If someone like me cannot get justice, what hope is left for an ordinary man?’
Outside their home, built on a farm in the village of Bharatpur, eight police officers and a police vehicle stood guard on Friday. Police marked areas where the shots were fired as family members, villagers and local leaders from all political parties poured in to offer their condolences.
Gurpreet worked for six to seven years at a cooperative society in Garhinegi, Jaspur block. The couple married in 2013.
About the UP police releasing criminal records of him and his family members, Bhullar said: “All these cases were registered 10-12 years ago during the Congress administration here. We have been acquitted in most cases… this has nothing to do with the current case.”
While Uttarakhand police have registered a case under several IPC sections, including murder, against 11-12 unidentified UP police personnel, the Kumaon DIG said no arrests have been made so far.
Moradabad Police (UP) has also filed an FIR against Jaffar and 30-35 unidentified people. On Friday, DIG (Moradabad range) Shalabh Mathur said, “No arrest has been made. An investigation is underway.” Regarding allegations made by Bhullar to the UP police, he said: “We had warned the local police before starting the raid. The police officers wore uniforms, although some were in civilian clothes.”