With the special investigating team (SIT) struggling to find an eyewitness to the Amritsar encounter in which an Akali leader was shot down by cops on June 16, it has asked people to come forward to share information regarding the incident.
Headed by inspector general Nageshwar Rao, the three-member probe team has questioned several people in connection with Mukhjit Singh's encounter by team of crime investigation agency (CIA) staff when he was going towards Mudhal village from Verka in his Hyundai i20 car.
"The SIT is looking into each detail minutely. We appeal to the public to come forward and share any information they have pertaining to the encounter. Though we have recorded statements of some people, we are yet to find a clear eyewitness in the case," says IG Rao.
Sources said the SIT has procured the footage of two surveillance cameras near the encounter site and sent it to a forensic lab.
The probe team is also closely examining the car in which Mukhjit was travelling before being shot down. "The SIT has picked some material from the car and sent it for tests,' said sources. The team is waiting for reports from the forensic lab before it submits its finding. During the probe, the SIT also questioned all 25 cops involved in the operation.
The SIT is also trying to find out whether Mukhjit had fired bullets at the police party or not. Also, the team is trying to ascertain whether the vehicle he was travelling in had proper number plates or not, said sources.
The police have come under flak after it said the incident was a result of mistaken identity.
Amritsar police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh said cops were on the lookout for one Jaggu, who had killed gangster Sanjeev Nayyar alias Babba last year, besides firing at RK Sharma, Amritsar central jail superintendent, and was an accused in several other cases also.
"Our parties had information that Jaggu was moving in the area and was likely to commit some crime," he said. He added that a team of cops, which was scouring the area for Jaggu, had received a tip-off that he was travelling in an i20 car. "They spotted an i20 car without a registration number plate and got suspicious," the commissioner said.
"Cops signalled the car driver (Mukhjit) to stop, but he did not do so. When they tried to stop him, he fired at them. The cops returned the fire, killing Mukhjit on the spot," Aulakh added.
According to sources, the cops were in plain clothes and the Akali leader mistook them for members of his rivals' group. Notably, the police had used AK-47 in the encounter and around 11 bullets had hit Mukhjit.
The incident was strongly condemned by the Akali Dal, with the party staging a major protest and demanding strict action against the 'erring' cops.
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, who had visited the family of Akali leader last week, had ordered the transfer of nine cops outside the border range.