The day assistant sub-inspector Vijay Kumar was assigned as the personal security officer (PSO) to Bhupender alias Monu, his family knew that he had become a ‘sitting duck’.
Kumar, they said, was put in a position where he had to take orders from a man with a criminal history.
“Monu usually ventured out of his home late at night and returned by 3-4 am, despite knowing he was most vulnerable to attack in those hours. My husband had no option but to accompany him wherever he went,” said Vijay’s wife, Sunil.
She said she often asked Vijay to seek another posting, but he refused. “Vijay said that someone or the other had to do this job (of a PSO) and since he was tasked with it, he will do it,” said Sunil.
Vijay, however, admitted that there were grave risks involved.
“Given the risk PSOs are exposed to, the force should at least have provided them with bullet-proof jackets. They should be given a separate vehicle to prevent them from becoming the first targets of assailants,” she said.
On Sunday, Vijay had left for duty at 8am. “He had called me around 10pm to say he would return home early the next morning. Instead of him, I received a call about his death in the morning,” said Sunil.
According to the police, Vijay had pulled out his service revolver as soon as he heard the gunshots. “He did not hide. He opened the car’s door to respond, but was shot dead before he could open fire,” said MN Tiwari, DCP (outer).
The murder of two of their colleagues has left many in the police department crestfallen and angry. They alleged that men working as PSOs often forced to violate rules.
“Most PSOs are bullied by people they are supposed to protect. It is worse for people guarding criminals. These men treat their PSOs as servants and as a show of strength,” said a senior police officer.
‘Bullets whizzed past us everywhere’
National Market, which is located adjacent to a posh colony in Paschim Vihar in Delhi and is situated barely 500 metres from Mianwali police station, is usually bustling with activity late into the night. Sunday night’s shooting — that left three men dead — however, has left visitors and local businessmen shaken.
They said Sunday night’s firing was straight out of an action film. “Bullets were whizzing past us all around. We hid under roadside stalls and inside shops to save our lives,” said Monty, a local resident.
Eyewitnesses said they first noticed the incident playing out after hearing gunfire. The first targets were the two friends of Bhupender alias Monu, a man with a criminal background. The motorcycle-borne men showered bullets at them, killing one at the spot. “The other man (Yogesh) escaped, even though the assailants chased and shot at him,” said Monty.
The killers then turned towards Monu and kept shooting at him till he was killed. Eight holes in the car’s bonnet stood testimony to the brutal assault.
“Their job done, the attackers then pointed their gun towards the owner of a restaurant and ordered him to down shutters. They then sped away while firing in the air,” said Chirag Shokeen, a local who was in the market at the time of the incident.
Some locals claimed that a fifth man, a local shopkeeper, was shot in the leg, a claim that was denied by the police.
On Monday, when local shopkeepers came to open their shops, they found bullet marks on their shutters and stalls. “Fortunately, most shops were already shut when the attack happened,” said Kamlesh, a local vendor.