A local leader of the BJP youth wing was murdered on Monday morning by three armed intruders while he was sleeping at his residence at Saketri village. His family managed to catch one of the assailants.
Ashutosh Bhardwaj, 25, who was Panchkula western mandal president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, was shot in his back and was also attacked with swords, allegedly over an old enmity. His younger brother Rahul Bhardwaj, who was sleeping in the same room, was also attacked with swords, but he survived.
The man caught from the spot was identified as Ajay, who was wanted in a two-year-old murder case in Rohtak.
Later, on a complaint from Ashutosh’s father Krishan, the police arrested five local persons for their alleged involvement in the conspiracy. They were Arun Hooda, his brother Tarun Hooda, Arun’s mother Saroj and his father Zoravar and R D Swami, who is a priest at a nearby Hanuman temple.
However, the two other assailants, identified as Sanjay, who is Saroj’s brother, and Tinku are absconding.
The police said past enmity between Ashutosh and Arun Hooda was at the root of the crime, and the assailants were known to Hooda.
According to Ashutosh’s family, he had a fight with Arun over a petty issue in November last year. On April 10, during the polling for the Lok Sabha election, Arun had picked a fight with Ashutosh near the Saketri polling booth.
Ashutosh returned home after attending a wedding late in the night and went off to sleep on the first floor of their house. His brother slept in the same room. Ashutosh’s father Krishan, mother Geeta and wife Neeru slept on the ground floor.
The police said that around 1.30 am, Ajay, Sanjay and Tinku entered the house, most likely by scaling the boundary wall, and went to Ashutosh’s room. Since the weather was hot, Ashutosh had left the door open.
While Ajay and Tinku attacked Ashutosh with swords, Sanjay fired a shot. The bullet went into Ashutosh’s back and came out from the right side of his chest. When Rahul tried to save his brother, he was also attacked with swords.
Hearing Rahul’s shouts for help, his father Krishan rushed to the first floor and together they overpowered Ajay while the other two intruders fled.
Ashutosh and Rahul were rushed to General Hospital in Sector 6 which referred them to PGI. Ashutosh was declared dead on arrival.
“After the incident, we called the Panchkula police control room, but there was no response. I then called the Chandigarh Police control room and asked them to inform the Panchkula control room about the incident. Thereafter, a PCR vehicle arrived at 2.15 am,” said Dilbag, Ashutosh’s uncle.
The police found one cartridge, one empty shell and two swords from the spot. Ashutosh is survived by his wife Neeru and two daughters, one just nine days old and the other two years old. Ashutosh’s father Krishan works as a personal assistant at Haryana Secretariat. Rahul, 22, has a business of cement and building materials.
People protest, manhandle DSP
About 500 villagers of Saketri gheraoed the Mansa Devi police station, alleging that the police had been protecting Arun Hooda, who was a local bully and used to indulge in hooliganism and harass women. Residents alleged that no action was taken against him even after several complaints. They also manhandled DSP Adarshdeep Singh.“The DSP talked to us in a rude manner. The police were extremely lackadaisical as the senior officers reached the spot at 8 am,” said Vishal Seth, Panchkula district president of the BJP.
Angry residents broke the rear glass of a police vehicle when the cops brought accused R D Swami to the police station. “Arun regularly harassed women, many complained to the police but no action was taken,” said Sonia, a resident of Saketri. “Around two years ago, Arun had thrashed me and my family members. But the police registered a case against us on his mother’s complaint,” alleged Kamaljeet Kaur. Jyoti added, “Such was his terror that women were afraid of stepping out.’’
Police Commissioner Ajay Singhal said he had not received any complaint, but “I have asked the DCP to collect all complaints and take necessary action. Disciplinary action would be taken against officers who failed to address the complaints properly”.