A woman shot dead Wednesday evening in Uttarakhand’s Udham Singh Nagar district during clashes with an Uttar Pradesh Police team, which reached there looking for a man accused of illegal sand mining, was identified Thursday as the wife of a local BJP leader.
The incident at Bharatpur village in Udham Singh Nagar district, in which six UP Police personnel were injured, including two with gunshot wounds, triggered a war of words between police forces of the two BJP-ruled states.
Uttarakhand Police said it was not kept in the loop about the operation, but the UP Police said it had alerted the Udham Singh Nagar police before mounting the operation.
The woman shot dead was identified as Gurpreet Bhullar, wife of local BJP leader and block chief Gurtej Bhullar.
He said the UP Police team came to make an arrest in Uttarakhand but did not inform the local police.
The FIR is against 11-12 unidentified UP police personnel and has been registered under IPC sections relating to murder, rioting, house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy.
There were protests in the area following the death of the woman. Bharne said the situation is now under control.
“The woman was cremated on Thursday. She has been identified as the wife of Gurtej, a local BJP leader and the block pramukh of the area. There is an FIR registered on the complaint of her family against UP Police personnel… The Uttarakhand Police was not given prior information about UP policemen coming to arrest a wanted accused. They conducted the raid in a residential area. The area is also very sensitive because it is in the mining belt. They tried to enter the house and faced resistance. It resulted in scuffles and shots were fired. How many rounds were fired will be clear in the investigation,” Bharne said.
Earlier, the DIG told the media: “The block pramukh here, Gurtej Bhullar, is a well-respected person and a police team from Moradabad reached Udham Singh Nagar without giving any information to conduct a raid at his house. Prima facie, we have found that none of them were in (police) uniform. We are investigating.”
Meanwhile, a forensic department official in Uttarakhand, who inspected the site, said they did not find evidence of cross-firing as suggested by UP Police.
“We have checked the vehicle and from a forensic angle, we did not find any evidence of cross-firing. Whenever there is cross-firing, there are signs on walls or vehicles, but we did not find any such thing. Prima facie, it appears that those who came fired the shots,” the official said.
Bharne said it is too early to say anything from a forensic point of view. “The samples collected will go to the lab and the results will come only after proper tests,” he said. Asked if there was any connection between the Bhullar family and Jaffar, the person the UP Police came looking for, Bharne said that they had not come across any link so far.
Meanwhile, Moradabad police lodged an FIR against Jaffar and 30-35 unidentified people at the Thakurdwara police station in the city. The FIR was registered under charges related to rioting, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy, dacoity and assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty.
Among the six injured UP police personnel is Thakurwada SHO Yogendra Kumar Singh.
The FIR quoted the SHO saying that on Wednesday evening, police got information that Jaffar would be on the Jaspur road in a white car. The SHO, the FIR stated, immediately informed the in-charge of the Special Operation Group (SOG) of Moradabad police.
When a police team intercepted the car, Jaffar, who was with an associate, opened fire on the police team. The car sped towards Uttarakhand and was chased by the Moradabad police team.
Jaffar, UP Police said, again opened fire and a bullet hit constable Deepak Kumar’s shoulder.
“Jaffar’s vehicle entered a village in Uttarakhand… He ran inside a house with his associate. The Moradabad police team also entered the house,” police said.
Jaffar’s associates attacked the police team with sticks, sharp-edged weapons and also opened fire on them, police said, adding that the police vehicle was set ablaze. Moradabad SSP Hemant Kutiyal told mediapersons that during the attack, Jaffar managed to escape from the spot. He said they had informed Uttarakhand Police about the operation and “we have evidence of it.”
DIG (Moradabad range) Shalabh Mathur said Gurtej – whose wife was shot dead – and his brother Sukhbinder Singh alias Chinder Singh, Jagtar Singh and Satnam Singh alias Satta were present at the spot. He claimed they have several cases against them.
Meanwhile, Gurtej said he arrived from Delhi around 5 pm Wednesday and the incident took place around 6.30 when he was sleeping on the roof.
“Around 10-12 people came and I asked them who they were. They all had pistols in their hands. I asked them to go downstairs, they said they were looking for a driver from Thakurdwara. I asked, Where is the Uttarakhand Police? They said they have come directly. I said, we will allow you to search once you call the Kunda police… One of them took out a pistol… and a bullet hit my wife. All these men were in civilian clothes. They left their vehicle,” he said.