The two city-based lawyers, who dragged local bodies and medical education minister Anil Joshi to court in three cases, escaped unhurt after two unidentified persons opened fire at them at Batala road on Monday night.
The advocates — Sandeep Gorsi and Vaneet Mahajan — were sitting inside their marriage palace (Ashirwad Palace) along the Batala road when shots were fired at. While the exact number of shots fired was yet to be ascertained, police confirmed that four bullets pierce through the windowpane of the room where they were sitting.
Despite confirmation that the bullets were fired in the direction of the room where the lawyers were seating, police choose to register a case under Sections 336/34 (firing in the air to scare off someone) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) rather than under Section 307 (attempt to murder). A case was registered at the Ram Bagh police station.
“It was a clear case of attempt to murder, as the shots were fired in our direction,” stated Gorsi and Mahajan, as they showed mediapersons the bullet marks inside the marriage palace here on Tuesday.
Narrating the incident, they claimed that those who had fired the bullets had also hurled threats at them for getting cases registered against ‘mantriji’. They showed an application to reporters that they had forwarded to the police commissioner on February 6, demanding police protection as their lives were under threat.
In the application, they claimed, “We are being threatened as we took Joshi to the court.”
“Instead of getting an FIR registered on our complaint, police chose to register it on the statement of a cart vendor, who claimed to have seen two motorcycle-borne youths firing the shots. It’s absurd that our complaint statement was not taken into consideration, as we have named Joshi in it,” said Mahajan.
The two advocates along with Congress leader Karamjit Singh Rintu and others had staged a dharna outside the Ram Bagh police station on Monday night, demanding registration of the case against Joshi under Section 307 of the IPC. The two have given the police 24 hours to register a fresh case or else they will stage protests.
Besides filing two defamation cases against Joshi, Gorsi and Mahajan were responsible for bringing to light a ‘double votes’ case against the minister and eight of his relatives.
Confirming the incident, police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh said the case was registered on the statement of a cart vendor, who witnessed the firing. On the demand of the advocates that an attempt to murder case should have been registered against Joshi, Aulakh said, “They can give us a complaint and we will order a probe, and take action accordingly.”
The firing incident took place at a time when the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls was in force. Under the code, all firearms should be deposited with police, but the persons who fired the shots at the advocates seem to have chosen to keep the firearms with them, which shows laxity on the part of the cops.
While the police commissioner claimed that a .32 bore pistol was used in the crime, the bullet marks suggest that the shots came from a “heavier weapon”, possibly the types carried by police personal.
Though the commissioner denied any pressure, the helplessness shown by some junior officers before mediapersons suggested that the cops were under some influence that led them to tone down the case.
Meanwhile, Joshi’s personnel assistant (PA), Rakesh Mintoo described the allegations levelled by the advocates “totally absurd”.