Having failed to show sufficient grounds for opening fire on unarmed teenagers that led to the death of one of a 19-year-old on Sunday morning, the Delhi Police are on the backfoot.
Though they plan to arrest Puneet Sharma, who was riding the bike and survived with injuries, the shooting of 19-year-old Karan Pandey has raised a serious question mark on the police action.
Karan was riding pillion on Puneet’s bike when he was shot dead near Parliament Street by a Delhi Police inspector.
Police said Puneet could be booked for dangerous and reckless driving and obstructing a public servant from performing his duty.
Families of the victims and civil liberty groups have questioned the extreme step taken by the PCR van staff that was chasing away what was claimed to be gang of bikers.
There are several loopholes in the police account. First, the police have not been able to recover either of the three bullets fired by the inspector, Rajneesh Parmar. Senior police officers admitted the bullets had not been found.
“How can we be sure that it was the third bullet that claimed Pandey’s life and not the first one? There are no independent eyewitness accounts of the shooting,” said M Zaidi, Pandey’s neighbour at Malviya Nagar.
Second, none of the three CCTV cameras installed outside Le Meridien and Shangri-La hotel have captured either the shooting or the stone pelting, which the police claimed led them to act against the bikers.
“The police are going to find it very difficult to get themselves out of this one. This was not an encounter with terrorists that they had the impunity to use arms openly. What was the imminent danger that they had to shoot? I don’t think their claims are very plausible,” said ND Pancholi, eminent civil rights lawyer.
Families of the victims also raised a number of questions regarding the sequence of events.
“If the two were performing stunts, how can they pelt stones simultaneously? Also, where did the stones and bricks come from? You won’t find stones lying by the side of the road near Le Meridian hotel. Are the police trying to say that the boys carried the stones with them?” Zaidi asked.
Pandey’s autopsy by a panel of three doctors - two from Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) and one from the University College of Medical Sciences — was conducted on Monday evening at MAMC.
The report is expected on Tuesday. An enquiry at the sub-divisional magistrate level has begun.
A case of rioting, rash and dangerous driving and obstructing a public servant from performing his duty has been registered at the Parliament Street police station and the investigation has been handed over to the New Delhi’s district investigation unit.