Four police personnel were suspended and arrested on Thursday after they tried to pass off a truck driver's killing as an 'encounter'.
The driver, Kuldeep Singh (32), was shot dead allegedly by cops after he jumped a check post in the wee hours of Thursday. Assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Inderjit Singh and constables Rajinder Singh, Bhuma Singh and Gurmeet Singh were booked under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
The accused initially claimed that they fired in self-defence after being shot at by Kuldeep, whom they identified as a drug peddler, and his accomplices. Later, they stated that Kuldeep was "accidentally" shot when a bullet rebounded off the truck's mud guard and pierced the windshield.
The district police lodged an FIR against the policemen on the intervention of senior police officers.
Sources said Kuldeep, a resident of Aagol village in Nabha subdivision, was killed by the police at the behest of a police informer, who had an old enmity with the truck driver.
"The driver did jump the check post, but the cops should not have opened fire. We are probing the matter. If something fishy is found, appropriate charges would be added in the FIR," said senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gurpreet Singh Gill, who visited the spot around 2:30am.
In the morning, Kuldeep's father Ratan Singh accused policemen of murder, saying that his son was innocent and had no criminal record.
Ratan said a man named Sunny, who had links with police personnel, had orchestrated his son's vendetta killing. "Kuldeep didn't come home last night. I called him on his mobile around 6am. A constable picked up the phone and told me to come to the Sadar police station. Cops informed me that my son was shot after he tried to flee from the police. They also pressed me for a compromise," he added.
Later, Ratan withdrew his statement and said that he was satisfied with the action against the accused for "negligence on duty". Superintendent of police (SP) Pritpal Singh Thind said Kuldeep's father and other villagers had accepted findings of the police investigation."Reports of firing by Kuldeep and others will be probed," he said.
According to the police, a Maruti car and a Tata 1109 |truck coming from the Nabha side were signalled to stop at a check post at the local grid chowk around 12:15 am on Thursday. The police claimed that Kuldeep and his unidentified accomplices drove on.
Cops chased both vehicles and fired shots at the truck's tyres. One shot hit the driver, Kuldeep, after rebounding from the mud guard, the police said, adding that Kuldeep's accomplices fled from the spot.
Incidentally, the police failed to find any contraband during checking of the truck.