THE CBI has recommended stern action against a Punjab Police officer, a former Olympian, who allegedly fudged records to favour the accused in the murder of a Ferozepur municipal councillor, who was allegedly shot dead in front of his son, five years ago.
In the line of fire is the Punjab Police Service (PPS) officer Gurmail Singh, the then superintendent of police (Detective) Moga, now a Assistant Commandant in the 7th Battalion, PAP, Jalandhar. Gurmail Singh was part of 1980 Olympics gold medal winning Indian hockey team.
He had conducted the probe in the murder of councillor Kulwant Singh Maggo (46), who was shot at in Ferozepur over a property dispute. Maggo, also a grocery shop owner, died three days later on December 1, 2010. One Jatinder Mohan aka Kuku Pradhan and three others were booked on charges of murder. The case reached the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2014, which had transferred the probe to the CBI on August 7, 2014.
In a report submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court last week, the CBI has stated that the officer should be tried on charges of “forgery, criminal conspiracy, causing the disappearance of evidence” and for framing an incorrect record”. The premier investigating agency told the court it discovered gross lapses in the probe report on the murder, that the SP (D) Gurmail Singh had submitted to his superior officers in 2011 and termed it as being “totally rubbish”.
The CBI, in its report, has mentioned that police had recorded a dying declaration from Maggo, which was even videographed by an electronic channel journalist. It said that SP Gurmail Singh made no mention of this and had in fact allegedly tried to project that Maggo “may have been killed by unidentified people,” even though, the CBI said, there were eye witnesses to the crime, including the victim’s son Inderjeet Singh.
While the CBI has arrested the four accused – Kuku Pradhan, Surjit Singh and Charan Das Handa and Vinay Kumal alias Kala Mahant (they are lodged at the Patiala jail) – its special prosecutor Sumeet Goel informed the HC that it has also obtained sanction to prosecute Gurmail Singh.
The court was told that the CBI, during its probe, found that Gurmail even had a registry from Vineet Armoury in Ferozepur, which mentioned that main accused Jatinder Mohan alias Kuku Pradhan had deposited his revolver in the gun-house on September 9, 2010, on the grounds that its firing pin was broken. The CBI though said the “entry in the register was completely false”.
The Punjab Police officer though denied the charges against him. “My inquiry was 100 per cent correct. The CBI has given a false report. I had submitted the report to my superior officers. If it was wrong, why did they accept it?” Gurmail Singh told The Indian Express through phone.
Family banks on CBI
For the family of Kulwant Singh Maggo, the five-year wait for justice now hinges on the CBI action. The former councillor is survived by his mother, widow, two sons and four daughters. They survive on the earnings from the grocery shop, which is jointly owned with Maggo’s brother’s family. After his murder, the family had to leave the house in Ferozepur’s Gali Telu Mal area, which was at the heart of the dispute. They are now settled in another house about two kilometers away at Amritsari gate.
“It is a sheer example of police highhandedness at its worst. I was present inside the house on the fateful day when Kuku Pradhan, Surjit Singh and Charan Das Handa came on a motorcycle and started abusing my husband. Pradhan wanted to grab our six-marla house in Gali Telu Mal. He fired two rounds from his revolver in front of my son, which hit Kulwantji. Though initially the police conducted a fair probe, they subsequently began diluting the case. The CBI is now our only hope,” said an inconsolable Gurmeet Kaur (46), Maggo’s widow.
“I witnessed my father’s murder, a fact that I even mentioned in my statements to the police. But when Gurmail Singh conducted the probe, he did not record my statements. In his report, Gurmail Singh mentioned that he summoned me but I never turned up. How can this be possible?,” questions Inderjit Singh (22), Maggo’s son.