A midnight police raid on a local Congress leader Balbir Pal's house under the alleged influence of a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader has raised questions on the functioning of the state police.
Pal's family members alleged that unable to bear the harassment at the hands of police and Chander Prakash Kathuria, state secretary of the BJP, Pal died due to shock in an hour's time of the 'house trespassing' by the cops.
The family claimed that Pal, 48, was a heart patient and under medication.
Accused sub-inspector Ram Narain Mishra was later held hostage by the deceased's family for nearly three hours untill the senior police officials reached on the spot. However, tyres of a police control room vehicle (PCR) used by the accused cops, were deflated and remained parked at the compound of the victim's house at Pal Nagar, located on the outskirts of the city.
Residents of the area also spotted some sharp-edged weapons in the PCR.
Sources close to the family said that Pal and Kathuria had ongoing legal disputes over certain financial matters.
Later, the police booked five persons, including three cops, Kathuria, his wife Hemlata and his close aide Jaswinder Narula under sections of 451 (house trespassing), 306 (abetment of suicide) and 34 (acts committed by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Kathuria was not available for comments on the charges levelled against him.
An affluent builder, Pal was a co-accused in a case where an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Umed Singh was arrested for illegally securing bank statements of Kathuria on April 9.
Pal was once a close aide of former chief minister Bansi Lal and his son late Surinder Singh.
Pal was also an office bearer of the Bansi Lal's Haryana Vikas Party, but he later joined the the Congress and was considered a confidant of the two-time Congress legislator from Karnal Sumita Singh.
Deceased's mother Prem Kumari alleged that around midnight on Thursday, a police party in plainclothes raided their house. She alleged that the cops said that they had come to teach Pal a lesson for taking on Kathuria.
"They trespassed into our house and threatened to arrest my son. As we requested to contact the family doctor, as Pal has a heart condition, the police did not budge and surrounded our house. When we demanded an arrest warrant, the police team, led by SI Ram Narain Mishra, threatened us all," she alleged.
Kumari further alleged that Kathuria, who was in a car parked at a distance from the house, was instructing the policemen to drag Pal out of his house.
Deceased's daughter Akanksha told Hindustan Times that the police was being misused by Kathuria to settle his "personal scores". She said that even when the family members asked the legitimacy of summoning an individual in the late hours, the policemen refused to budge.
The family denied that police had served any prior notice on Pal to join the police investigation.
"As the abusive policemen kept on threatening the family women, my father fainted. He was immediately rushed to a private hospital in the city, where he died at around 1.30 am," she said.
Unaware of Pal's death, a police party again came knocking at their door at around 6am to arrest him. But this time the agitated family members and their relatives held the SI Mishra hostage.
Demanding a criminal case against the accused, the family on Friday blocked the Karnal-Pehowa road for nine hours by placing the body in the middle of the road.
They refused to get the postmortem conducted on the deceased's body or cremate him until their demand was met.
Deceased's daughters accused the police authorities of "working under the pressure of their political masters" and trying to shiled Kathuria.
It's only after the superintendent of police Abhishek Garg assured registration of an FIR against Kathuria and others that the family relented. As a copy of the FIR was handed over to the family, the body was taken to the Kalpana Chwala Government Medical College for post mortem on Friday evening.
SP ADMITS LAPSE BY COPS
SP Garg told HT that it was a serious matter that the cops approached the family in the midnight and then early Friday morning. "Due action will be taken if rules were not followed," he said.
However, the SP said that there was a case pending against the deceased in which BJP state secretary Kathuria was a complainant. "As the SI was held hostage by the family and a PCR van was overpowered, a police file pertaining to the case was also been taken away by the mob. We have yet to retrieve it," he said.