Hindustan Times’ Jalandhar-based principal correspondent Jasdeep Singh Malhotra was killed, while three others, including Pathankot SSP SK Kalia, were injured in a road accident near Mukerian on the Jalandhar-Pathankot highway on Sunday.
The 41-year-old journalist was killed on the spot, whereas the SSP, who was critically injured, was rushed to a Pathankot hospital from where doctors referred him to Fortis Hospital in Mohali.
As the driver of the Innova vehicle of the SSP in which the four were heading towards Pathankot tried to overtake a truck from the left side, it collided with the truck before falling into a 20-ft-deep gorge after hitting roadside trees. The truck driver fled from the spot along with the truck.
The other injured are SSP’s driver Bui Lal and gunman Lal Singh. The driver is said to be critical while the gunman is stated to be out of danger; both were admitted to the Pathankot hospital.
According to Pardeep Pandit, photojournalist with Hindustan Times, who originally was accompanying Malhotra in a car, the two started from Jalandhar for Pathankot around 11am to do a report on mining for which Malhotra was trying to take the SSP’s version on the phone.
“I spotted the SSP’s vehicle overtaking us near Bhogpur town in Hoshiarpur district and suggested Malhotra to join Kalia after which he sat in the Innova.”
Pandit said their car was left behind and when they reached Milwan village near Mukerian, they spotted the mangled Innova and identified Jasdeep’s body lying nearby from the clothes and shoes.
As the accident took place in Himachal Pradesh, the body was taken to a hospital at Nurpur in Kangra district, where following the post-mortem it was handed over to the family.
DSP Pathankot (rural) Prabhjot Singh, who rushed to the spot, said, “The gunman told us that the accident took place as the SSP’s vehicle tried to overtake the truck. The car probably hit the truck and overturned.” He said they were trying to locate the truck.
Known for investigative reporting, Malhotra on Saturday had highlighted as to how mafia in Pathankot were collecting lakhs in ‘goonda tax’ for sand and gravel. The report had appeared on the front page of the Sunday edition.