The Haryana Police was unable to record the statement of the ex-Army officer who allegedly bludgeoned six people to death in Palwal as he was in the ICU of a Delhi hospital after undergoing a head surgery. A day after 45-year-old Naresh Dhankhad went on a deadly rampage that sent shockwaves through the Haryana town, the family members of the victims held a protest and demanded adequate compensation and a job to the next of kin of the victims.
They blocked the road outside the civil hospital where the bodies of the victims were kept. Later, the administration announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the next of kin of the victims. Dhankhad, believed to be mentally ill, was nabbed soon after he went on the killing spree in the early hours of Tuesday. He had sustained serious injuries in a scuffle with the police. “We have yet not been able to record the accused’s statement as he is still not in a position to do so. He is currently admitted to Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital,” Palwal SP Sulochana Gajraj said.
Dhankhad, an ex-Army lieutenant, was presently working as a sub-divisional officer with the Haryana’s Agriculture Department, the SP said. He was operated at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday. “He had suffered head injury and was found to have epidural hematoma (EDH), which is an intracranial hemorrhage between the outer membrane of the brain and the skull. We operated on him and removed the blood clot,” Dr Karam Chand Sharma, head of the department of neurosurgery at the hospital, said. “He is in the ICU and was taken off the ventilator in the morning. His condition is stable but he is yet to gain consciousness,” he said.
Meanwhile in Palwal, the last rites of the victims were performed in the evening. Karan Singh Dalal, Congress leader and a legislator from Palwal, slammed the government for offering the victims’ families “meagre” compensation. “The compensation is too meagre and is like insulting the families of those who have lost their bread earners,” he said. Dalal demanded that the next of kin of the victims be given a compensation of Rs 1 crore.
He blamed the police and the government for failing to act on time which could have prevented the horrific crime. Dalal said the kin of victims should get Rs 1 crore in compensation as the accused was a government employee, whose history of violent behaviour, the government had failed to take notice of. Dhankhad had carried out the attacks between 2 am and 4 am with the help of a 3-feet iron rod. He was finally arrested around 7 am.
Dhankhad’s first victim was a 37-year-old watchman after which he targeted a woman, an attendant of a patient who was sleeping in the corridor of a private hospital here. Two middle aged security guards and a beggar were also among his victims. Panic had spread in Palwal after the ex-serviceman went on the killing spree. CCTV footage at the hospital, where he attacked the woman, shows the accused wearing a trouser and a sweater entering the hospital.
In less than two hours, Dhankhad had killed six people, hitting them on the head with the iron rod he was carrying. The horrific incident sent shockwaves in Palwal town, which is nearly 80 km from Delhi. When the police finally caught him, Dhankhad tried to resist and even assaulted the police before being overpowered.
Congress MLA Dalal said the accused was employed as an SDO with the agriculture department and posted in Nuh. Police had shown laxity in taking action against the accused after he had misbehaved with a woman, who was a resident of Palwal, Dalal claimed. Two years back also an FIR had been registered against Dhankhad in connection with a fight, he said. Dalal claimed that Dhankhad had been removed from the Army on medical grounds.
“The fact that accused was mentally unsound was known long before. The question is how did the Agriculture Department not know his history. The accused was known to enter into fights with his neighbours and with his own family,” Dalal said. “How was he being allowed to continue in service despite his violent behaviour, this is a lapse which they must answer,” the MLA said.