Even as Mumbai was returning to normalcy after thousands of Bal Thackeray mourners took to the city's streets to pay their last respects, the Capital found itself gridlocked in a peculiar Catch-22 situation.
A pathway bedecked with rose petals and distraught faces waited in vain at a south Delhi cremation ground as an apparent "miscommunication" between police and doctors at AIIMS ensured that liquor baron Gurdeep Singh, or Ponty Chadha, and his brother Hardeep got late for their own funeral.
"Their mother's wish is that both brothers be cremated together. She has already suffered too much. No matter what happens, we will ensure that her wish is fulfilled," said Inder Mohan Singh 'Titu', a close family friend and general secretary of the Shirimoni Akali Dal (Delhi).
On one side, there was the mourning family -- insisting that the enmity between the brothers responsible for each other's deaths be somewhat resolved through a joint funeral. On the other, was the police -- insisting on complete paperwork and adamant on procedure to deflect any potential allegations of inefficiency.
"It's all a matter of time," said Tejinder Kaur, 56, a close relative. "Time has inflicted these injuries. Only time can heal these wounds."
The funeral was attended by former Haryana chief minister and INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala and cricketer-turned-politician Azharuddin.
However, no politician from Uttar Pradesh was in attendance.
Two hours after their funeral was supposed to be conducted, Ponty's body, doctors said, had to be brought back to AIIMS to recover the remaining bullets on Sunday evening -- after police requested all bullets to be extracted for the purpose of evidence.
"There were 15 bullet wounds -- in the form of entry points -- on Ponty's body. Of these, four did not have exit wounds, which meant that they were still lodged inside. After four hours of autopsy, doctors could only recover one bullet," said an officer.
The body was released to his family, apparently at their insistence, before the police were told that only one bullet had been extracted.
So, when senior police officers found out, Ponty's body was brought to the hospital around 8 in the evening, amid heavy police deployment, for the second time.Ponty and Hardeep's first autopsy had taken place early on Sunday.
At least three bullets were found in a matter of 30 minutes by the AIIMS forensic experts in the evening
"Ideally, all bullets should be removed and we do screen the body for bullets as a procedure, but most of the time, family pressure to release the body is so high that doctors don't get enough time to take out all bullets," said a doctor at the hospital.Routinely, it takes about an hour to perform an autopsy, but in the Hardeep's case, it took longer.
Finally, however, after almost half a day of confusion and exasperation, the brothers' funeral pyres were finally lit by their sons around 9pm.
This is to clarify that in this article which appeared on page 2 in Monday’s edition of the Hindustan Times, it was erroneously mentioned that Haryana’s incumbent chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had attended the funeral of Ponty Chadha and his brother Hardeep. It was, in fact, former Haryana chief minister and INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala who had attended the said funeral ceremony. The error is regretted.