The two men arrested after the encounter with the Chandigarh Police in Moga on Wednesday say they had no connection with Sukhdev Singh and Inderjeet Singh alias Gora who were killed in the shootout.
Gurcharan Singh alias Rinku and Khushpinder Singh, who are admitted to the Moga Civil Hospital for treatment of their injuries, said on Friday that it was sheer coincidence that the four men happened to be at the same spot on the Moga-Kotkapura highway at the time of the encounter.
The Chandigarh Police had gone to Moga, looking for three men who had beaten up and sexually abused a youth in Sector 22. After the encounter, it claimed that Sukhdev was the leader of the gang whose members had attacked the youth.
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The Chandigarh Police also said that both arrested men were wanted in connection with the FIR lodged by the youth and that Khushpinder is actually Sukhpal Singh, who is named in the FIR along with Gurcharan Singh alias Rinku and Shinder Singh.
Initial reports had wrongly identified Inderjeet Singh as Shinder Singh who is, actually, absconding. Also, Khushpinder Singh was wrongly identified as Simple.
Recalling the sequence of events from his hospital bed, Gurcharan Singh alias Rinku said, “We went to V-mart mall at Moga that day and, maybe, the police were following us from there, but we had no idea. On the way back, we stopped at a watermelon juice vend on Moga-Kotkapura highway and came out of our Mitsubishi Lancer car.”
“Soon, a Tata Sierra arrived. Two men sitting inside the car were having liquor. After some time, one of them came out,” he added.
Next, a few cars arrived and some men got down, all in civil clothes. “They had pistols in hands and were shouting ‘catch them, catch them’. Immediately, there was firing and complete chaos,” said Rinku.
“I immediately lay down to escape the shots while the police and the two men (later identified as Sukhdev and Gora) exchanged fire.
Later, we both were nabbed by the police,” said Khushpinder. Asked about who fired first, he said, “We did not notice.’’
Other sources said that, in all probability, Sukhdev and Gora, who were recently attacked in a land dispute, mistook the policemen in civil dress who came brandishing pistols for rival gang members who had come to attack them. The two opened fire, inviting retaliatory fire from the policemen which eventually killed them.
Meanwhile, the watermelon juice vendor is missing. Jaswant Singh, another watermelon juice vendor who sat on the opposite road, said, “I heard gunshots that day and hid inside my hut.’’