If not for a dysfunctional wiper of his Pajero car, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Brijpal Teotia and his aides may not have been injured in the assault by persons with AK-47s and other weapons at Rawli Road in Murad Nagar on August 11.
Teotia’s close aide Inderpal Singh, of Hasanpur, is recuperating at a private hospital in Ghaziabad. Recounting the sequence of events preceding the incident, Singh said that Teotia had decided against using his bulletproof Pajero as its wiper was out of order.
“Bhai sahib (referring to Teotia) said that the wiper would not be useful if it rains. So he decided to take the Scorpio, which had no bullet proofing, said. The Pajero gave us bulletproof protection... had the Pajero been used, there would have been no attack. We suspect that there was an informer who was tracking us and knew that the Pajero was not going to be used that evening,” he said.
He said that two of the attackers’ cars cornered them near the telephone exchange at Rawli Road and assailants, mostly aged between 25 and 30 years, opened fire with “big weapons.”
“Teotia ji was their only target as they opened fire on his side of the car. We had three pistols and a rifle with us but the volley of bullets splashed over our car and we ducked down. While I shouted to duck, Bhai sahab shouted ‘fire karo...’ and I fired two shots through the window. He could not use his pistol as he had sustained a bullet injury to his hand by then,” he said.
“After I opened fire, Mohkam Singh (an aide), who was in the second car also opened fire with a rifle. Nearly 7-8 rounds were fired from our side. However, none of the assailants were injured and they boarded their cars, with one fleeing towards the highway and the other in opposite direction, on Rawli Road,” he said.
Around 30-40 rounds were fired from AK-47s and 9mm pistols on Teotia’s Scorpio.
“Still, he told the driver to drive at full speed to Ghaziabad ... he told driver ‘horn pe haath rakh le aur gadi bhaga’ (keep the horn pressed and speed the car to Ghaziabad). While our car sped towards the highway, the assailants sped, thinking that we were trying to chase them. But we turned towards Ghaziabad from the highway. Midway, I called the helpline 100 four times but it did not connect. We called up his (Teotia’s) brother Vikas and told him about the incident,” Inderpal said.
He said that Teotia was provided a police gunner but the security was withdrawn a few days before Kanwar yatra.
“We were told that it is due to shortage of staff and guard would be reassigned. However, the gunner has not been reinstated till date,” he said.
Superintendent of police Salmantaj Patil said that security of 28 persons was withdrawn before Kanwar and not only Teotia’s.
“The security was provided on verbal orders and he never applied for its reinstatement. After withdrawal, eight others had applied for reinstatement of their security,” Patil said.