A day after Dr Neha Shoree, 36, was shot dead in her office in Kharar of Mohali district, the family of the Punjab Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) officer demanded a high-level independent investigation into what it said was a well-planned murder with links to the state’s drug mafia.
Neha, the daughter of 1971-war veteran Capt. Kailash Kumar Shoree (retd), was shot dead by Balwinder Singh of Morinda, whose drugs licence she had cancelled back in 2009. After killing Neha in cold blood, Singh shot himself when bystanders cornered him and blocked off his escape. Read | Punjab: His licence cancelled, chemist kills drug officer in front of niece
Nishant Shoree, Neha’s elder brother, told The Sunday Express, “The drug mafia active in Punjab is behind the murder of my sister who was an honest officer and never gave in to pressure while discharging her official duties. Balwinder Singh’s drugs licence was cancelled because he was selling unauthorised drugs at his chemist shop. This means he was linked with the drug mafia. The circumstances in which my sister was murdered suggest a deep-rooted conspiracy, beginning with the way in which Balwinder managed to procure an arms licence and purchased a revolver — all this when the Model Code of Conduct was in place.
“At a time when weapon-holders are legally bound to surrender their weapons, Balwinder was roaming free with a revolver, and finally murdered my sister who was sitting in her office in a government building. We demand that an independent investigating agency should hold a high level probe and unearth the conspiracy behind the murder.”
Nishant’s six-year-old daughter Aradhya — Neha’s niece — was sitting next to the slain officer and witnessed the murder. Nishant is an engineer with Infosys in Chandigarh.
Capt. Shoree (retd), said, “Neha was not comfortable in her job. Sometimes I felt that she was hiding something from us. And whenever I tried to enquire, she avoided my queries. She is a martyr who sacrificed her life in the battle against the drug mafia. Why was my daughter shot dead? It proves she was performing her duty with utmost honesty and did not succumb to any pressure. I participated in the Indo-Pakistan War in 1971 for my country. And today, the drug mafia of this country snatched my daughter from me.”
Capt Shoree served in the Indian Army until 1980, and therafter joined the State Bank of India.
Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police Harcharan Singh Bhullar said, “Balwinder’s family claims that they were not aware that he possessed a revolver. Since he killed himself, it is not yet known if he acted at somebody’s behest. We are investigating.”
Members of Neha’s family, relatives, and friends expressed outrage over the murder. Senior Advocate of Punjab and Haryana High Court, M L Sarin, an old family friend, said, “It is absolute lawlessness prevailing in Punjab. A man carrying a weapon simply walks into a government building and leaves after shooting a brave woman officer. No doubt, the illegal drug syndicate is one of the reasons behind Neha’s murder.”
Neha’s husband Varun Monga who works in a private bank, was inconsolable. “I need a thorough probe. My wife was innocent, she was gunned down by a criminal,” he said.
Punjab Health Minister Brahm Mohindra visited Neha’s home in Sector 6, Panchkula, Saturday. He promised a thorough probe and told the family that the government would investigate how Balwinder was issued an arms licence.
“I agree that the manner in which Balwinder managed to procure an arms licence needs to be probed. It certainly needs a high-level inquiry. The victim must and shall get justice,” Mohindra said.
A large number of well-wishers gathered at Manimajra cremation ground in the evening. Shashi Shoree, Neha’s aunt, said: “We do not want our daughters to study and excel in their professional careers. This Beti Bachao Beti Padhao slogan is a farce. Because, when a beti studies, gets a job and works honestly, criminals kill her and get away,” Shashi told reporters at the cremation.
Ropar Deputy Commissioner Dr Sumit Jarangal said, “Police have checked Balwinder Singh’s background. He has no criminal record. He applied for an arms licence in January this year. He was given the date of March 6 for issuing the licence. He was eventually issued the licence on March 8.”