The case of Moga encounter, in which two men were killed in a shootout with the Chandigarh Police, took a new turn on Wednesday when the Moga police gave a clean chit to two men, Sukhpal alias Khuspinder and Gurcharan alias Rinku, who were arrested from the spot.
Both were freed after the police informed the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Sanjeeta that no evidence had been found against them. The two men are among the three accused named in a case of assault and sexual harassment of a youth in Sector 22, registered on June 23. The encounter took place when the Chandigarh Police went to Moga on June 25 to arrest them. Two men, identified as Sukhdev Singh and Inderjeet Singh, were killed in the encounter.
H S Pannu, SP (Detective) of Moga, said, “We asked for temporary release of the two men as there is no evidence against them in the shootout. The magisterial inquiry is on, they can be re-arrested if required.”
The Chandigarh Police was not present to arrest the duo. “We have not received any request from the Chandigarh Police,” said Pannu.
In their statements filed by Moga Police in the court, Sukhpal and Gurcharan have stated that it was Sukhdev Singh who fired the first shot, and then the police retaliated.
However, a new point that has come out from the interrogation is that Sukhdev and the two arrested men were in touch beforehand and had fixed the time to meet at a particular juice vend.
Earlier, Sukhpal and Gurcharan had said that they did not know Sukhdev and Inderjeet, and it was a mere concindence that they happened to be at the juice vend at the same time.
A top Moga officer said, “After the Chandigarh assault case, Khushpinder alias Sukhpal and Gurcharan contacted Sukhdev Singh and both agreed to meet at the juice vend. They wanted Sukhdev to intervene and help them reach a compromise with the youth who had lodged the FIR in Chandigarh. However, before they could start a conversation, the UT Police arrived.”
The officer added that Sukhdev mistook Chandigarh policemen, who were in civil clothes, as his rivals in a land dispute who had come to attack him, and opened fire.
The presence of Akali Dal leader Gursewak Singh Gohlia, who is a cousin of Insepctor Ranjodh Singh of Chandigarh Police on whose statement the FIR was registered, at the spot is not yet established.
“One of the arrested men says that he was present there, while the other denies it. But there was a man present there with a covered face. Investigation is on to know if he was Gohlia or someone else,” police said.
The families of Sukhdev and Inderjeet have alleged that the two were killed in a conspiracy, linked with a land dispute, and Gohlia was involved. However, Gohlia has denied the allegation.