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Restaurant shootout: Not clear from footage who fired first, who shot Vashisht

CCTV video raises more questions than answers; Bassi says SIT constituted for a ‘professional and unbiased’ probe.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: May 19, 2015 3:57:44 am
Vashisht-wife-l Manoj Vashisht’s wife Priyanka outside Lady Hardinge hospital on Monday. (Source: Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

The Delhi Police on Monday formed a special investigation team (SIT) headed by a joint commissioner of police to probe the “encounter” killing of alleged fraud Manoj Vashisht on Saturday. The move follows a meeting between Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Vashisht’s family on Monday.

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Commissioner B S Bassi said the SIT was constituted for a “professional and unbiased” probe. “We want to complete the probe as soon as possible. One officer has been taken from the Crime Branch too,” Bassi said.

Asked whether any time-frame has been set for the SIT to complete the probe, Bassi said it was not possible to fix a time. “You will get a clear picture after the completion of the investigation…the SIT has already started work, he said. The SIT will be headed by Joint Commissioner of Police (Central) S K Gautam and comprises DCP (Central) Paramaditya, ACP (Crime) Suresh Kaushik, SHO (Prasad Nagar police station) Ramesh Chander Lamba and Inspector Manoj from the Crime Branch.

shootout-video-pic-l A grab from CCTV footage of the alleged ‘encounter’.

While Bassi said the aim was to conduct an unbiased probe, the selection of some officers for the SIT raises questions. One of the officers in the SIT, inspector Lamba, was earlier posted with the Special Cell for around eight years. “Lamba was posted with the same team of special cell which gunned down Vashisht. He was transferred last December. Lamba is now playing a crucial role in the investigation. He was the one who recorded the statements of all the eyewitnesses at the shooting scene, minutes after the incident,” a police source said.

ACP Kaushik was earlier selected from the Crime Branch for the SIT formed to investigate the “suicide” of farmer Gajendra Singh last month.

Meanwhile, police released the 30-second CCTV footage of the “encounter”, but the hazy video raises more questions than answers. The video shows two policemen approaching Vashisht, who was sitting with about six persons. The inspector who approached Vashisht can be seen being pushed away by the victim. This is followed by a scuffle. The following moment, the inspector grabs Vashisht, who is wearing a blue shirt, from the back, while about four-five other policemen converged over him. Within seconds, Vashisht can be seen lying on the floor.

However, it is unclear from the footage whether Manoj opened fire or just tried to run away. It is also unclear who among the policemen shot him.

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