Senior Punjab-cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Gautam Cheema was on Sunday booked by the SAS Nagar police for abducting from police custody a proclaimed offender (PO), a move under which his suspension and arrest are imminent.
“The accused (Cheema and three others) are absconding. We have despatched teams to arrest them and raids are being conducted at their residences and other places,” Inder Mohan Singh, senior superintendent of police (SSP), SAS Nagar said.
This gross professional misconduct of inspector general (IG) Gautam Cheema, who is posted in the information technology and telecommunications (IT&T) wing of the Punjab police in Chandigarh, was first reported in Hindustan Times (‘Punjab IG kidnaps PO, frees him’, August 30).
Apart from Cheema, the police have registered the first information report (FIR) against Ajay Chaudhary and two unidentified persons. Chaudhary, as per police records, is the suspended chief executive officer (CEO) of the Ambala cantonment board and was accompanying Cheema during the PO’s alleged abduction.
The case was registered under sections 365 (kidnapping or abduction), 342 (wrongful confinement), 452 (house trespass, assault or wrongful restraint), 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 225 (obstruction to lawful apprehension of another person), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 120-b (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The primary charge against Cheema is that he abducted PO Sumedh Gulati from police custody. The PO was arrested on August 26 and is a business partner of alleged conman Devinder Singh Gill, who was arrested recently. Gulati, Gill and Cheema were once close friends and involved in some alleged shady land deals.
Police sources say that the FIR was lodged following an inquiry into Cheema allegedly abducting Gulati, who was in police custody. The FIR says that the IG abducted the PO from the police station on the night of August 26.
A senior police officer said, “The FIR has been lodged on the basis of an inquiry conducted by the superintendent of police (detective) Gursharandeep Grewal, which states that Cheema abducted the PO.
He committed the crime even after the duty police officer informed Cheema that Gulati was a PO in a fraud case and that he cannot hand him over without the permission of his senior officers.”
As per the police, the FIR states that after abducting the PO from the police station, the accused went to a private hospital in Mohali where Kricpy Khaira, Gill’s wife, was undergoing treatment.
Police said the IG abducted the PO and took him along to the hospital to mount pressure on Kricpy to withdraw the molestation complaint she had lodged against the former. “The IG abducted the PO and presented him before Kricpy to prove how powerful a police officer he is and that he can have his way,” said a police officer.
Later, on the intervening night of August 26-27, the police had rearrested the PO from Cheema’s illegal custody. The SAS Nagar SSP said that soon after the PO was abducted, a daily diary report was registered. Following a detailed preliminary inquiry into this episode, the report had been submitted to Patiala range IG Paramjeet Singh Gill, who later recommended the registration of a case.