PARENTS of Neha Shoree, the zonal drugs licensing authority who was shot dead in front of her infant daughter in her office at Kharar on March 29 last year, are now seeking a fresh probe into the case.
Balwinder Singh, 49, a Morinda resident, had opened fire at Neha, who was posted as the zonal licensing authority, at her office at Kharar before shooting himself with his 32 bore pistol. The probe was conducted by the Bureau of Investigation (BoI), Punjab.
Even though the family has been alleging the role of a drug cartel behind Shoree’s murder, the BOI filed a closure report into the investigation in the court of sub-divisional judicial magistrate, Kharar, Shilpi Gupta, on January 8 this year. The court accepted it.
Not satisfied with the report, Neha’s parents, Capt Kailash Kumar Shoree, a 1971 war veteran, and mother Arun Shoree, a retired schoolteacher, have been calling for a central agency investigation into the murder.
The parents lament that there has been no effort to reopen the case despite a petition in the High Court and scores of letters to the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Punjab DGP, BOI director, Punjab Chief Minister, as well as women and human rights commissions.
As per the Mohali police, a team led by Neha had raided Balwinder’s shop in 2009, following which his chemist licence was cancelled due to the presence of intoxicants in the shop without any requisite documents. They claimed that this had led the accused to kill Neha 10 years later. After shooting Neha, Singh shot himself when bystanders blocked his escape.
The parents, however, point out that Neha was posted at Rupnagar for only two years and eight months during her probation till August 2010. “She did not have any powers to even temporarily suspend any licence till her elevation as Punjab state flying squad head in 2014,” says Capt Kailash.
The parents allege that even though they fully cooperated with the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Punjab Police, they were kept in the dark about the probe. In their letter, they allege, “SIT deliberately botched the investigation at every step in a surreptitious, unscrupulous and opaque manner by keeping us totally in the dark throughout the long period of ten months after the murder.”
The Shorees allege that the SIT report was provided to them on February 24 this year. “It does not contain any details of investigation except for an overview of a shoddily summarised version. There is nil contribution of both, the Director Prabodh Kumar ADGP (now promoted to DGP rank) and Mr Arunpal Singh IG.”
The parents allege that the material collected from the scene of murder like revolver, bullets and empties was not sent for forensic/ballistic examination till as late as August 7, 2019, after a lapse of 131 days. “It was sent to forensic lab only after our repeated requests followed by our written letter on June 21 last year. Forensic experts’ visit was arranged on July 10, after a lapse of 103 days… No physical evidence could be found due to the wilful delay by SIT.”
Calling the murder part of a bigger conspiracy as their daughter had been making efforts to stop the drug menace, the parents want a central agency to probe the matter.
The parents also allege serious irregularities in the issuing of a weapon licence to Balwinder Singh on March 12, 2019.
“At a time when even licensed revolvers were being collected all over the country before the application of model code of conduct, why was the accused, a known drug peddler, issued an arms licence and even permitted to purchase a revolver?”
The Shorees allege, “All the 7 to 8 functionaries of police and DM’s office put their signatures/remarks in handwritten endorsements on killer Balwinder Singh’s application for revolver license. All of them put the date of March 8, 2019 by hand. There is no record of any file movement between different places/offices located at distance of 15 to 20 kms, which indicates that the signatures were entered by all on March 11, 2019 and backdated as March 8 was the last working day before the imposition of model code of conduct for general election on March 10, a Sunday. The revolver licence was signed by the DM on 12th March 2019 and was handed over to the killer on the same afternoon. Licence issue date in the central database of Union Home Ministry is March 12, 2019 which needs to be investigated,” alleges Capt Kailash.
The then Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Dr Sumit Jarangal, told The Indian Express that Balwinder Singh had prefixed ‘doctor’ before his name and mentioned ‘self-defence’ as the reason for applying for the arms licence.
He had also said at the time, that in case of doctors they expedite the arms licence, especially when they need it for self-defence.
Jarangal had also written to the Punjab home department for cancelling the licence of Vipan Gun House in Ropar from where accused Balwinder Singh had purchased the revolver used to kill Neha.
The DC’s inquiry report had found that the owner of the gun house did not inform the district administration about the sale of the weapon. Jarangal said that had the gun house owner informed them in time, they could have got the weapon deposited as the model code of conduct was in force at that time.
Balwinder had purchased the 32 bore revolver with 20 live cartridges from Vipan Gun House a few days before killing Neha.
Calling for an investigation by a central agency under the supervision of the High Court, the Shorees say, “We apprehend the drug mafia of Punjab is involved in the murder of our daughter. This is the real reason for completely blacking out of the SIT investigation and justice for our daughter.”
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