A day before a Meerut woman and her son were to appear in court as witnesses for her husband’s murder, both were shot dead within minutes of each other on Wednesday afternoon.
The victims — Nichhatar Kaur, 60, and her son Balwinder, 26 — were shot by relatives of the man who had allegedly shot Kaur’s husband, Narender Singh, in 2016, according to surviving family members.
The mother-son duo, both witnesses in Narender’s 2016 murder, were to appear in the hearing on Thursday, after the earlier hearing on January 18 was postponed.
According to police, the assailants first shot Balwinder in his car as he was leaving home, in Sorkha village of Meerut district. Stating that both were shot “at least six or seven times”, Meerut SSP Manzil Saini said that Balwinder was barely 300-400 metres from home when he was accosted by the trio and shot.
Within minutes, they killed his mother. Family members said Kaur was sitting on a charpoy outside home, chatting with her sister-in-law Bijendri, 65, when the three walked in and fired point blank at her.
SSP Saini said one suspect — Tarun, alias Golu (23) — has been arrested and booked under IPC Section 302 (murder). “He has denied involvement. His motorcycle was found close to the crime spot,” she said.
The police are looking for the other two accused, one identified as Maange, elder brother of the man accused of killing Narender, and the other unidentified, she said.
The three assailants were caught on CCTV outside the house, installed by the family after Narender’s murder.
Saini said five police personnel have been suspended: an inspector, two sub-inspectors and two constables. “They should have known that the case was important and sensitive. Trouble was brewing in the village (but) they didn’t have any knowledge,” she said.
In 2016, Narender Singh was gunned down by Maalu, a distant relative, for not supporting him in the panchayat elections, Saini said. Maalu allegedly blamed Singh for his defeat, “although he was murdered on October 19, 2016, almost 10 months after the elections”, she said.
Saini said the absconding accused, Maange, is Maalu’s elder brother, and Golu a close relative.
Still in a daze, Bijendri told The Indian Express on Wednesday night: “They came suddenly. I didn’t have time to understand what was happening. All I can recollect is Maange telling the others, ‘inko chhod do, inko mat maaro (don’t kill her)’. I got up and ran away. They killed her.”
Balwinder’s wife Kanchan, the only other person in the house at the time, said, “I saw them coming and I wanted to get her (Kaur) inside. But she had a knee problem and couldn’t walk properly – she couldn’t move. I heard them say, ‘don’t spare the wife and children (of Balwinder)’, so I ran back in and bolted the door.”
Kanchan said she tried calling Balwinder “but I didn’t know they had killed him already”.
The couple had two children Pari (7) and Veer (5).