Chandigarh police inspector Ranjodh Singh, who had led the team that gunned down two alleged criminals at Moga on June 25, on Saturday denied allegations that Akali leader Gursewak Singh Gholia, who is his cousin, was present the encounter spot.
Two “survivors” of the encounter who are admitted to the Moga civil hospital have alleged that Gholia was behind the shootout, adding fuel to the larger allegation that the encounter was staged.
However, Ranjodh also denied that he was related to Harpinder Singh, the victim in the assault case in connection with which the UT police team was in Moga. “In fact, no one in the team that carried out the encounter is related to Harpinder,” he said, sticking to the theory that the gangsters fired first and died in retaliatory fire.
He said the UT team had gone to Moga for arresting five accused who were booked after Harpinder had alleged that “contract killers” had robbed him and made a humiliating video of him on June 22 in Sector 22.
The two men in Moga hospital — Gurcharan Singh alias Rinku and Khsushwinder Singh alias Sukhpal — are accused in that assault case. Ranjodh said the team had gone to arrest them and the shootout happened “just by chance”: “We never knew this operation would result in an encounter.”
Another senior police officer said, on the condition of anonymity, “Ranjodh had gone to Moga to arrest the accused as he was well-versed with the area.” Ranjodh is a native of Barnala that is in the same Malwa region of Punjab as Moga. “He had claimed that he would be able to track down the assailants in the Sector-22 case. Proper permissions were given to the team to leave for Moga,” said the senior officer.
The police claimed to have tracked down three of the five accused to Moga on the basis of a mobile phone that they had looted from Harpinder. Ranjodh added, “We had done elaborate study about the gang and were well aware that these are hardcore criminals. Our team was comprised of nine cops.”