A Gurdaspur resident, Sunny Masih (25), was shot dead and his two accomplices, Goldy Masih and Amanpreet Singh, were arrested by a Mohali police team here after an exchange of fire in the wee hours of Saturday. The place where the encounter took place falls in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh, around 100 kms from Mohali. The encounter occurred around 3 am.
Police said five men had allegedly snatched a Hyundai Verna at gunpoint from Sante Majra village in Sector 91 of Mohali district around 11 pm on Friday. While three men escaped in the stolen Verna, their two accomplices sped off in a Maruti Ritz.
“An alert was flashed and description of the stolen vehicle was shared with all the patrol parties. A search operation for the stolen vehicle was launched. A team, comprising DSP Ramandeep Singh and Inspector Tarlochan Singh, moved towards Anandpur Sahib. On the way, they checked the Kurali toll plaza CCTV footage. They spotted a Hyundai Verna that matched the description of the vehicle we were looking for. Finally, they intercepted the vehicle near the parking lot of Naina Devi temple. An exchange of fire took place between the accused and police officers.
One accused was shot dead while two others were captured alive”, said Kuldeep Singh Chahal, SSP, Mohali. Navneet Singh, a resident of Land Mark Society in Sante Majra village, and his brother-in-law Ritu Raj Singh were going to their village on Friday night when their car was snatched by the accused at gunpoint.
Police sources told Newsline that since a GPS tracker was fitted in the car, Ritu Raj kept receiving the vehicle’s location and passed it on to the police thereby making it easier to track the Verna’s movement. SSP Chahal, however, said, “We tracked down the Verna following the CCTV footage of different toll plazas on the highway from Mohali to Anandpur Sahib and then towards Naina Devi temple.”
Police investigations further revealed that Sunny Masih was already facing one criminal case in Nagrota, Himachal Pradesh and he was out on bail. Police suspect Sunny’s accomplices Goldy and Amanpreet also have a criminal past.
“Inspector Tarlochan Singh and I were in a Toyota Innova that belongs to our known Lakhvir Singh. We were assigned the task of going towards Anandpur Sahib. While checking the Kurali toll plaza footage, we suspected that the accused had driven towards Ropar. Since Tarlochan is well-versed with the area, he suggested that we should go towards Anandpur Sahib and also check the Naina Devi parking lot. When we reached the road to Naina Devi, we found the same Verna but with a changed number plate, parked near a roadside eatery and three young men having food there. We asked them to show their identities. One of them pulled out a weapon and fired at us. We also responded. All three ran in different directions. The man, firing at us, was hit by retaliatory fire, while his accomplices raised their hands and surrendered. We took them in our custody and informed Himachal police,” DSP Ramandeep Singh told Chandigarh Newsline.
Inspector Tarlochan Singh said, “Since one of them had sustained a bullet injury in the cross-firing, we rushed him to Anandpur Sahib Civil Hospital. There, doctors declared him dead on arrival. He was later identified as Sunny Masih, a man with a criminal background from Gurdaspur.”
After the encounter, seven empty bullet shells, two live cartridges and two 30 bore Chinese pistols were recovered from the spot. Bilaspur police have also seized two service revolvers of Mohali police in this connection. SDM, Swarghat, Anil Chauhan will conduct the magisterial probe.
Bilaspur SP Ashok Kumar, said, “Initially, Sunny Masih’s family refused to claim his body, but later they agreed. His body will be handed over to them after post-mortem at the civil hospital. We have registered a case of attempt to murder and Arms Act against Sunny Masih, Goldy Masih and Amanpreet Singh at Kot Kaihloor PS.”Sunny is dead but Goldy and Amanpreet have been arrested.”
Mohali police told NL that they were also searching for their remaining two accomplices, Sanju and Varun Sood, who escaped in the Ritz.
Police killed Sunny in a fake encounter: Uncle
Yunus Masih, uncle of Sunny Masih, said the encounter was fake. He told reporters in Batala, Gurdaspur, “Sunny was not involved in any criminal case and Punjab Police killed him in a fake encounter.”
A Mohali police officer said, “An FIR of theft and under Arms Act was registered against Sunny at Nagrota Bagwan Police Station in Kangra in 2014. Recently, a Himachal police team of Himachal police raided his house in Gurdaspur and his father told them that Sunny had nothing to do with them.”