A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe has found that the July 3 'shootout' in which the Dehradun police killed 24-year-old MBA student Ranbir Singh was staged and he was shot at point-blank range 30 times, according to highly placed sources in the agency.
In its preliminary report, the CBI's Special Investigation Team (SIT) has dismissed the police theory that Singh was trying to escape on a motorbike after stealing a service revolver from a senior policemen and that he was fired upon from a distance.
These findings were confirmed after the SIT conducted a recce of the site and also recorded statements of the witnesses last week.
The sources told IANS in New Delhi on Friday that police personnel dragged the badly bruised Singh out of one of the four police vehicles in the Ladpur jungles and laid him down before firing 30 shots from close range.
"All evidence and clues gathered by us clearly establish it is a fake encounter. They fired 30 gun shots at him from three different makes of firearms. Our investigation also shows that they badly beat up Singh in custody for two hours," a senior CBI official involved in the investigation told IANS on condition of anonymity.
The police version is that Singh was riding a motorcycle with his two friends on July 3 when policemen stopped him at a check post near Dehradun.
They alleged that the three men got into an altercation with a police sub-inspector who had asked them to stop and then fled into a nearby forest after snatching his service revolver. In the ensuing shootout, Singh was gunned down while the other two managed to escape.
No policemen was injured, even as the state police termed it an encounter, a euphemism for shootout.
As the incident led to public outrage, the state government suspended eight police personnel including Senior Superintendent of Police Amit Sinha.
The Lucknow branch of the CBI registered a case on July 31 after Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal recommended the transfer of the probe to the agency.
"They (police) put him in a jeep and took him deep in the jungle. The 11 bullets we found buried seven inches deep in ground clearly suggest that the policemen laid him down and fired at him from close range."
"While some bullets pierced his body, there were other shots that missed him. There were in all 12 bullet marks on his body. The recovery of the bullets suggest that the shots were fired from three firearms - an assault rifle like an AK-47, a sophisticated 9mm pistol and a pistol of .38 bore," the official said.
The CBI also found that the pistol recovered from Singh's possession had not been fired. SIT sources said they had also managed to collect blood samples from the crime scene.
"We have also managed to collect a blood-soaked handkerchief from one of the four police vehicles. We will now conduct a DNA test and if the DNA and blood group matches that of Singh, it will establish beyond any doubt that he was carried in the police vehicle. That would nail the lie of Dehradun police which say that he was trying to flee on a motorbike," the official added.
The agency's preliminary report was also based on the post-mortem examination carried out on Singh's body that suggested there were 24 physical injury wounds inflicted apart from the bullet injuries.
In addition, the CBI has also dismissed the police claim that Singh and his friends had criminal records. "So far we have not found any criminal record either in Ghaziabad or in Meerut," said the official.
The SIT hopes to finalise its report once the forensic test results come in a fortnight and prepare a charge-sheet.