The court of additional district and sessions judge Gulab Singh on Friday sentenced two people to life imprisonment for the murder of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashutosh Bharadwaj on May 25, 2014. Four of the accused have been acquitted.
Bharadwaj was the president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the BJP, and was thrashed with swords on arms and head, before being shot dead at his residence in Manav Colony near Saketri village. The murder was largely attributed to political rivalry between two families.
The attackers, who were relatives of Congress women wing leader Saroj Hooda, also attacked the victim’s brother Rahul and their father Krishan with swords on head, arms and shoulder. Rahul and Krishan were admitted to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) and survived.
There was tension between the two families supporting different political parties and members of the two families had entered into a scuffle on April 10, 2014, the day Panchkula went for voting in Lok Sabha polls. Previously, on November 27, 2013, there was a fight between the two families and proceedings were initiated against Bharadwaj’s family under Sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Seven had been held for murder
The police had arrested Saroj Hooda, her son Arun, husband Zorawar, and their relatives Ajay, Sanjay and Pradeep on the charges of murder. A priest, RD Swami, who was running a temple in Saketri, was also arrested but he died during the trail. Ajay, the nephew of Saroj, was arrested from the spot as family members of Bharadwaj had locked him up in a toilet and informed the police. The father and brother of Bharadwaj identified Ajay. Krishan told the court that he had seen Ajay carrying a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other.
The police had claimed that Sanjay and Pradeep were also among attackers and it was Pradeep who had procured the pistol from Meerut for murder.
“In court, the conspiracy couldn’t be proved. Saroj and her husband Zorawar were acquitted along with Sanjay and Pradeep. There is a minor, another son of Saroj, who is facing trial in juvenile court,” said Sameer Sethi, the defence counsel.
Bharadwaj is survived by two daughters and wife. His friends said that he wanted to throw a party on the birth of second daughter.
On the next day of murder, the BJP had made the shopkeepers close their shops for two hours in Panchkula. Present education minister Ram Bilas Sharma had also visited the family.
Temple at centre of rivalry
A temple in Manav Colony in Saketri was the main cause rivalry between the two families. Bharadwaj’s family used to make allegations against RD Swami for fostering unsocial elements in the temple. Swami was arrested during the police investigations. The police had alleged that he was part of conspiracy to kill Bharadwaj.