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Restaurant shootout: All 18 eyewitnesses unable to say who fired the first shot, says SIT

The 30-second hazy CCTV footage of the encounter, SIT sources said, raises more questions than answering them.

Written by Mahender Singh Manral | New Delhi |
Updated: May 20, 2015 2:48:51 am
restaurant shootout, Manoj Vashisht encounter, Delhi gangster encounter, Delhi Police, Manoj Vashisht, Delhi news Outside Lady Hardinge Hospital where Vashishth’s body was taken for an autopsy.

The investigation into the alleged ‘encounter’ at Sagar Ratna restaurant on Saturday got murkier after the special investigation team (SIT)  scanned the recorded statements of the 18 eyewitnesses. It was found that none of the witnesses have clearly stated as to who fired first or which policeman fired the bullet that killed Manoj Vashishth. The 30-second hazy CCTV footage of the encounter, SIT sources said, raises more questions than answering them.

One of the officers of the SIT said they have scanned the recorded statements of Jennifer Dias, Revati Rao, Rajni, Lata Grover, Murali and Sanjay Vohra. These persons were seated at Manoj Vashisht’s table.

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“All eyewitnesses have said the same thing — that they were present at the spot and saw Vashishth whipping out a pistol. But most of them got scared and started running when Vashishth got into a scuffle with the police officers. They just heard the gunshots and could not see who opened fire first or who fired the bullet that killed Vashishth,” the officer said.

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The hazy video shows two policemen approaching Vashishth who is sitting with six persons. Suddenly, Vashishth is seen pushing away the inspector who approached him and this is followed by a scuffle.

“The next second, Inspector Dharmender grabs Vashishth, who is in a blue shirt, from the rear while about five policemen tackle him. Within seconds, Vashishth is seen on the floor. However, it is unclear from the footage if Vashishth opened fire or just tried to run away. It is also unclear which policeman shot him,” the officer said.

The officer said the investigators are now planning to re-construct the crime scene with the help of forensic experts and the doctors who conducted the autopsy.

“The SIT is also baffled by the contradictory statements made by Special Cell officers. Initially, they said Vashishth shot himself during the scuffle and that sub-inspector Bhoop Singh opened fire after he heard Vashishth’s pistol go off. But in the FIR lodged against Vashishth, Inspector Dharmender said there were two, almost simultaneous, gunshots,” the officer said.

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