Principal Correspondent of Hindustan Times,Jasdeep Singh Malhotra,was killed and the SSP of Pathankot,S K Kalia,was seriously injured after the SUV in which they were travelling was hit by a truck in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday. The driver of the SSPs vehicle and his gunman were also injured in the accident.
The accident took place on Pathankot-Jalandhar highway near Mukerian in Kangra. According to HT photojournalist Pardeep Pandit,who was accompanying Malhotra,they were on their way to Patahankot to do a follow-up story on illegal sand mining. At Mukerian,Pandit said,Malhotra noticed the SSP’s vehicle and called him to get his version on illegal sand mining in Pathankot. Kalia obliged and Malhotra shifted to the SSP’s vehicle so that they could discuss it while on their way to Pathankot.
“I stayed in our vehicle and Malhotra shifted to the SSP’s Innova. Since I had to take some medicine,I halted at Mukerian while the SSP’s vehicle went ahead. When we reached near Milwan village,few kilometres from Mukerian,I saw a large number of people standing on the roadside and found that the SSP’s vehicle had rammed into a tree. Malhotra was badly injured,while the SSP and his driver were already rushed to Pathankot hospital in a critical condition before I reached the spot,” said Pandit. “People there told me that the vehicle was hit by a truck and then it hit the tree,” he added. Kangra SP Balbir Thakur,however,squarely denied that the SSPs vehicle was hit by any other vehicle. Prima facie,the accident occurred due to speeding by the SSPs driver, Thakur said.A case has been registered at Indora police station.
According to Pandit,while the police immediately took the SSP,the gunman and the driver to the hospital,they delayed taking Malhotra.
Malhotra (41) is survived by his wife,a son and a daughter. Born on March,5,1972,Malhotra a resident of Model House in Jalandhar had earlier worked for ‘The Tribune’ before joining ‘Hindustan Times’ and eventually promoted to the post of Principal Correspondent.
A pro-active journalist Malhotra always remained on the look-out for investigative stories.
Cong suspects foul play
Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa President suspected a foul play into the incident calling it a deep-rooted conspiracy. He (Malhotra) was a daring journalist who had today done a story exposing the nefarious activities of sand mafia in Pathankot area, said Bajwa and urged the Punjab and Haryana High Court to take a suo moto cognizance and order a CBI probe. “Since the High Court was monitoring the sand mining cases,I request the Chief Justice of High Court to order CBI probe into the circumstances that led to death of Malhotra”,Bajwa said. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal,Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal also condoled the untimely death of Malhotra.