Hours after they gunned down Manoj Vashisht in an alleged encounter in a central Delhi restaurant Saturday night, the Delhi police claimed he was wanted in several cases of cheating involving real estate deals, and that he had been on the run.
But on Monday, Sharad Sachan, Superintendent of Police, Baghpat — Vashisht hailed from Baghpat district — said the Delhi police contacted him after the encounter to inquire about Vashisht’s background. No policemen from any state, Sachan said, had ever contacted him regarding Vashisht earlier.
A Delhi police team turned up in Baghpat only on Sunday, police said.
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Incidentally, the “wanted” Vashisht regularly visited Pabla Begumabad, his village in Baghpat. “He used to visit his village frequently to take part in local activities. Around two weeks ago, he attended a religious gathering organised at the Pura Mahadev temple in the village,” Satish Kumar, former pradhan of Pabla Begumabad, said.
“We cannot believe Manoj (Vashisht) was a criminal. No policemen from any state ever visited our village looking for him. Even the local police never came to our village to inquire about him. Manoj was a businessman, a social worker,” Satish Kumar said, adding “Manoj and his family have a good reputation in the village.”
In Pabla Begumabad, where an estimated 6,000 live, they remember Vashisht as someone who would organise mass marriage of girls from poor homes, the man who started a free ambulance service, opened an education institute for children.
His wife Priyanka is a zila panchayat member from Ward-18 in Baghpat. His brother Anil ran for the post of the nagar panchayat chairman in 2012 but lost the election. Sunil, youngest among the brothers, takes care of the farm work. Anil and Sunil live with mother Veermati, their wives and children. Their father Roop Chandra is no more.
Manoj and Priyanka married in 1998 and have two daughters, one 11 years old and the second only 3. He had moved to Delhi 14 years ago.
According to records of the City Kotwali police station in Baghpat, the District Magistrate’s office issued a pistol licence to Vashisht on April 20, 2002.
Krishna Murari Dohrey, Station House Officer of City Kotwali police station, said he had visited Pabla Begumabad on Sunday evening to verify the address of Vashisht after the encounter. But no one was present in the house then, he said.
Dohrey said police records showed that a case of fraud was lodged against Vashisht in 2007 by a Ghaziabad resident and a chargesheet was filed in the case.