Sukhdev Singh Namdhari, the key witness to the gun battle leading to the death of liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his younger brother Hardeep Chadha, is missing, sources investigating the case said today.
Namdhari, former chairman of Uttarakhand Minority Commission and a close associate of Ponty Chadha, has gone underground since November 18, a day after police questioned him regarding the November 17 shooting at Chhatarpur farmhouse No 42.
Namdhari was questioned when he had approached south Delhi's Mehrauli Police Station on November 18 to lodge an First Information Report (FIR) against Hardeep.
"During his questioning, he assured us that he would cooperate. But he has gone missing," the investigating officer told IANS. Police believe that Namdhari did not reveal the whole story behind the shooting. In his complaint, Namdhari only mentioned that Hardeep fired first, said the officer.
He added that Namdhari did not say anything about the forceful entry by Ponty Chadha and his men at the disputed farm on the fateful day. Namdhari is needful by Delhi Police to clarify whether Hardeep fired at Namdhari before targetting Ponty Chadha, said the officer.
Another source told IANS that Namdhari had been intervening in the property dispute between the two brothers and Hardeep was not happy over his interference.
The Uttarakhand government removed Namdhari as chairman of Uttarakhand Minority Commission following his involvement in the shootout. A special team of Delhi Police had been sent to Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab to nab Namdhari and those who were present during the shootout, another police officer said.
Police have identified around 12 people -- including Namdhari, Ponty Chadha's two personal security officers (PSO), Ponty Chadha's driver, his security manager, four PSOs of Hardeep and his driver -- as witnesses to the shooting spree.
Ponty Chadha's two PSOs Uday Raj Singh, 44, and Rajpal, 36, his driver Anand Singh Bist, 31, and protocol manager Bhupinder Singh Bist, 60, are in police custody.
Namdhari was also Ponty Chaddha's business partner. Namdhari, who is facing over three dozen criminal cases of murder, land grabbing and cheating in Uttarakhand, was involved in several property deals by Ponty Chaddha in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, added the officer.
"Whenever Ponty would go for any business deal, Namdhari would accompany him," police said. Namdhari, who had played a crucial role in expanding Ponty Chadha's business in Uttarakhand, came into the limelight after he was appointed chairman of the Uttarakhand Minority Commission in 2010.
Seven luxurious vehicles used for the gun battle have been seized, police said. Six people associated with Ponty Chadha have been arrested so far. There were scuffles at two farmhouses in Bijwasan and Chhattarpur. No one was injured at the Bijwasan farm but the shootout at the Chhatarpur farmhouse left the two Chadha brothers dead.
Around 21 teams of Delhi Police are investigation the case from all angles.