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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Chandigarh

The murder that remains unsolved
Hillary Victor
SAS Nagar, September 30, 2013
First Published: 09:42 IST(30/9/2013)
Last Updated: 09:45 IST(30/9/2013)

The murder of Sameer Watts, who was shot in the head from point-blank range at Phase-8 Dussehra Grounds in SAS Nagar on March 12, 2009, and died a week later, continues to be an unsolvable puzzle.


Though the police conducted a polygraph test on two suspects - Watts' brother-in-law (wife's brother) Sandeep Singh and Achherpal Singh, IT head at Fortis Hospital - in August this year, nothing much came out. The cops, however, continue to maintain that the case would be solved soon.

As the police file a reply about the progress of the blind murder before the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday, on a petition filed by Watts' father Colonel Surinder Kumar (retd), Hindustan Times tries to piece together the mysterious murder.

Day of the crime

Sameer Watts (35 in 2009), a general manager with Airtel, was in his car, while his brother-in-law Sandeep Singh was 100 metres away, when he was shot in the head on the evening of March 12, 2009. Bleeding profusely and unconscious, Watts was wheeled into Fortis Hospital. On March 19, Watts breathed his last at Fortis, where his wife Simrat was the in-charge of the hospital's patient welfare department. Though the police formed special teams to probe the case, the murder is still a mystery.

Sandeep's version

During his polygraph test at the Directorate of Forensic Science in Gandhinagar (Gujarat), Sandeep revealed that he received a call from Watts on the day he was shot at. Watts told him that he was asked by an unknown person to meet him at Cosmo Hospital in Phase 8, which is located right in the middle of Dussehra Grounds. Watts asked Sandeep to join him. Sandeep said he reached the spot before Watts, who came in his Santro a while later. They stayed in their cars which were parked at a distance from each other's. Sandeep said that Watts had asked him to stay like this over the phone, and that he would signal him when the person arrives by flashing the headlights of his car. After a few minutes, Sandeep phoned Watts and asked him to leave the spot, but Watts insisted that they wait for five minutes. Sandeep phoned again, but Watts did not pick it up. Seconds later, he saw a white car speeding past Watts' Santro, he felt something was amiss, and went to Watts' car. When he knocked on its door, there was no reply.

On a closer look, he found Watts lying unconscious.  Sandeep then rushed him to Fortis Hospital. In his test, Sandeep also said that his sister Simrat had a shaky marriage with Sameer and for some time, she had stayed with her parents, but later started living with her husband again. 

Polygraph test revelation of Achherpal

Achherpal, a colleague of Simrat, was working as the information technology head of Fortis when Watts was killed. At around 7.45pm that day, he said he got a call from the hospital's security officer, informing him about the shooting. Achherpal was asked to check the extension code of a phone number with Fortis, as the call made to Watts before his murder originated from Fortis. He was also asked to check the recordings of the security camera of the room from where the phone call was made. Though Achherpal divorced his wife in 2012, he said his relationship with Simrat was professional and that he had never met Watts. About the extension code from which the call was made, he said it was a common extension at Fortis and he could not ascertain who phoned Watts. He said his department never accessed Simrat's emails.

Hole in the Probe

During initial investigations, police found that when Watts was alive, Simrat had reportedly got close to an Indian living in Indonesia, who had come to SAS Nagar for his mother's treatment at Fortis. The same person had received a threatening email that generated from the hospital's computer server. Though police suspected that the same person may have eliminated Watts, they never explored the angle. 

Will crack the case now: SSP

SAS Nagar senior superintendent of police Gurpreet Singh Bhullar said they had got some vital clues in the polygraph report. "We hope to crack the murder soon."

Polygraph test

A polygraph test (better known as a lie-detector test) involves a machine called polygraph in which multiple ('poly') signals from a sensor are recorded on a strip of moving paper ('graph'). The sensors usually record the person's breathing rate, pulse, blood pressure and perspiration. Sometimes, a polygraph will also record arm and leg movement. When a polygraph test starts, the questioner asks a few simple questions to establish norms for the person's signals. Then the real questions are asked. Throughout questioning, all of the person's signals are recorded on moving paper. The polygraph examiner can examine the paper to see if vital signs changed significantly on specific questions. In general, a significant change (such as a faster heart rate, higher blood) indicates that the person is lying.


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