Though the Shahkot police have arrested Harwinder Singh for allegedly murdering his wife Mandeep Kaur, 20, the victim's father, a police home guard deployed at Shahkot police station, on Monday alleged that the police were trying to shield Harwinder's woman friend and other accomplices involved in hatching the conspiracy and executing the murder.
The police role remained suspect since Mandeep was murdered on Friday evening. Though an FIR on the complaint of Paramjit Singh, Harwinder's father, was registered against Swaran Singh of Bhawani village near Phagwara and others for murdering his daughter-in-law Mandeep, the police didn't arrest the murder accused even after 72 hours of the murder.
Paramjit, in the FIR, alleged that Swaran's daughter Baljeet Kaur wanted to marry his son as they had an affair. He accused the girl's family of murdering Mandeep.
Mandeep's father Surinder Singh, in his statement to the police, alleged that Harwinder, who returned from Dubai nearly six months ago, and Baljeet had an affair and hatched a conspiracy to murder the newlywed girl so that they could marry.
But the police have their justification for not arresting the Phagwara-based accused. "We were suspecting Harwinder's role in the murder right from the beginning. Now, the case is clear with his arrest and subsequent confession," SHO Prem Singh said, adding that the police remained busy with the post-mortem and related activities, thus, could not contact Harwinder's woman friend so far.
"Harwinder told investigators that he had been forcing his wife to divorce him soon after their marriage since she was two years elder to him and was not 'good looking'," the SHO said.
On Sunday, the SHO had informed the media that Harwinder was 22 while the victim was 20. HT inquiries, however, revealed that she was born in December 1991; hence, she was not elder to her husband, who termed age factor as a reason for the murder.
Nowhere in the investigation records, Harwinder confessed to his affair with Baljeet while he had told mediapersons about his relationship with Baljeet during his treatment at the civil hospital. Sources said the police were trying to underplay the extramarital affair for "obvious" reasons.
"The police are trying to shield Baljeet and other accomplices involved in the murder. We are a poor family while Baljeet's family is seemingly influential. It's unimaginable that Harwinder singlehandedly overpowered my daughter and hacked her to death without facing any resistance, that too on a street. It's the work of a group. Moreover, there were no blood stains on his clothes, when he was admitted to the hospital after the self-inflicted injury on the arm," Surinder said.
The police said Harwinder overpowered Mandeep at a deserted place on Bhadma to Raunta village road, sat on her chest and slit her throat once before inflicting injury on his own arm. To make sure that she had died, he again attacked her throat with a sharp-edged weapon, which got stuck in the body.
Surinder said Harwinder, before leaving the former's residence on Friday evening, was heard by his son as informing someone on phone that he would reach the spot within 15 minutes. "Though he was deliberately delaying departure from my house since Friday morning, he virtually rushed after receiving a call in the afternoon. He had deployed a gang of killers on way to his house.
The police should check the mobile phone tower locations to ascertain the presence of others in the crime. His phone record should also be checked to unveil the truth," he said, adding that the culprits be arrested immediately to ensure delivery of justice to the aggrieved family.
SP Rajinder Singh said the police had not extended the clean chit to Baljeet and her family even as their involvement was being investigated.
Meanwhile, a local court has remanded Harwinder into three-day police custody.