Mistaking him for a gangster, the Haryana Police shot dead a 22-year-old student early on Monday.
Kuldeep Singh, a final-year student of Vaish College, was returning from a party with friends when the policemen from
nearby Hisar district allegedly shot him in the forehead barely two kilometres from his home in Dabar Colony. He died on the spot.
The policemen, who fled immediately after the killing, claimed it was a case of mistaken identity. They said the police party was on lookout for a notorious criminal, Dara Singh, and mistook motorcycle-borne Kuldeep and two others for gangsters.
Kuldeep’s distraught brother Vikas Singh, who was with him at the time of incident, said his brother was shot at point-blank range without provocation.
“They just stopped us and opened fire. We didn't even know who they were and why they fired at us,” he said.
Angry relatives and residents took to the streets and pelted stones at the local police station. Markets and educational institutions in Bhiwani were kept shut for most of the day to protest against the incident. A mob gathered near Ghantaghar Chowk adjacent to the Civil Hospital where Kuldeep's body was kept, and set afire a police motorcycle and damaged another vehicle.
After the initial confusion, the state authorities, rattled by the public outburst, ordered a magisterial inquiry and registration of FIR against the policemen involved in the incident. Bhiwani SP Sanjay Singh said the main accused, Constable Karambir, had been arrested and a case registered against seven other personnel of Hansi police. The victim’s family, however, said it did not trust the police and asked for a CBI inquiry.
Bijender Singh, the victim's uncle, told HT that Kuldeep, along with his younger brother Vikas and a friend, was returning home late in the night on a motorbike when a jeep overtook their vehicle and forced them to stop on the Tosham bypass road in Dabar Colony.
“Before the boys could understand what was happening, the policemen caught hold of them. One of them fired at Kuldeep at point-blank range. It was only after the firing that the policemen enquired where they were headed. On realising their mistake, the policemen fled from the spot,” he alleged.
Singh also accused the police and other authorities of giving conflicting versions of the incident to confuse the matter.
Hukam Singh, who was also travelling with the two brothers, alleged that the policemen were inebriated and manhandled them before firing at Kuldeep.
However, Hisar SP Anil Kumar Rao said the incident was not an encounter but a case of accidental firing. He said the police had stopped the young men as they had information that Dara Singh, prime suspect in a robbery case of Rs 2.16 lakh in Sorkhi village in May, was in Bhiwani.
When the police signalled the motorcycle to stop at midnight, the men tried to speed away, Rao claimed. The police party chased them on the Tosham-Bhiwani road and when they came near the motorcycle, a constable's gun went off as the condition of the road was not good, the SP claimed.