Leaving the SAS Nagar police red-faced a day after they claimed to have heroically chased down three robbers after a shootout, the Patiala district police on Sunday honoured residents of the village where the gangsters were caught "for their bravery in helping the police from Rajpura" in the arrests.
Police from Dera Bassi in SAS Nagar, even after arresting the three men from Charbar village in Patiala district's Rajpura region, had made no mention of the cops from the neighbouring district, or of the villagers. But on Sunday, after Patiala SSP Hardial Singh Mann honoured his men and the villagers, Dera Bassi circle SP Anil Sharma finally admitted that Rajpura cops as well as the residents of Charbar had indeed "helped us in nabbing the robbers from the fields of green fodder".
Earlier, SSP Mann said at the function in Rajpura, "It's our duty to honour the bravery of citizens, who helped the Rajpura and Mohali (SAS Nagar) police nab gangsters coming from Mohali side. Bhupinder Singh Khatra, the SP of Rajpura, and his team members, with the help of civilians, managed to nab the accused." Bravery certificates were given to at least 10 policemen and as many villagers.
He insisted that the function was "not a matter of taking credit": "We are handing out the honours as such joint police-civilian actions should be encouraged to contain crime."
All three accused, natives of Sirsa in Haryana, were meanwhile sent in seven-day SAS Nagar police custody by a court. They had been caught for first snatching a Fortuner SUV and then tractor-trolley at gunpoint on Saturday. Besides theft, they also face charges of attempt to murder as they had fired gunshots while being chased by the police.
In all, six men have been charged, three of them at large. Those arrested are Manoj Kumar, of Ellanbad, Sirsa; Vijay Singh Thakur of Shahpur, Sirsa; and Abhimanyu, HUDA Colony, Sirsa, while those who escaped are Rammi of Kot Colony, Sirsa, and Lakhwinder and Teza Singh, also from Sirsa.
Sources said Abhimanyu is a second-year student of law at Panjab University while Manoj, from whom a .315-bore gun and some cartridges were seized, is wanted in Sirsa too.
Before they took away the Fortuner from Moon Dhaba near Lalru, they had stepped down from two cars, the drivers of which are also likely to be investigated.