Police on Wednesday killed an alleged liquor smuggler in an encounter on the Jeeda-Dabrikhana road in Faridkot district, though his family claims he was a victim of mistaken identity.
At about 11pm on Wednesday, Ajmer Singh (24) of Thandewala village in Muktsar district was with Muktsar’s Mandeep Singh on their way back from Bathinda’s Jeeda village when police shot the former in the chest. From the Bathinda Civil Hospital, the body was moved to Faridkot’s Guru Gobind Singh Medical College for autopsy that the family didn’t allow.
“A police party noticed armed men in a car that matched our input about liquor smugglers in the area. We alerted Faridkot police, who laid a trap,” said Bathinda senior superintendent of police Swapan Sharma. Faridkot SSP Sukhmandar Singh said the men in Maruti Suzuki Swift car had fired first at the police party led by Jaitu SHO Lachhman Singh, “whose security guard fired in self-defence when Ajmer trained his rifle on him”.
“We allowed Ajmer’s family to take him to hospital on humanitarian grounds. We found no case against him, so far, but have seized a 0.12-bore rifle and a live bullet after killing him,” said the Faridkot SSP. “Police took Ajmer for gangster Devinder Bambiha and admitted to it when they asked us to take him to hospital,” said victim’s brother-in-law, Gurtej Singh of Jeeda. Mandeep Singh, who was the other man in the car, said: “Police flagged us down and when Ajmer stepped out, bullets came at him from a jeep, at which I got out and fled.” The vehicle from which the Jaitu police shot at Ajmer belongs reportedly to a Bathinda liquor company. A liquor trader is believed to have played informer.
Four men who moved Ajmer to Bathinda hospital were also detained but police deny it. They say two of these men — Ranjit Singh of Muktsar and Devinder Singh of Badewala (Muktsar) — had helped gangster Rajiv Kumar Raja flee police custody in March 2014 in the same Swift car.