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Punjab drug officer’s murder: Accused bought gun despite poll code in force

The shooter was issued a gun licence on March 11 when teh poll code had already kicked in and bought the weapon on March 12 in Rupnagar.

chandigarh Updated: Mar 30, 2019 23:51 IST
Shailee Dogra
Shailee Dogra
Hindustan Times, Mohali
Punjab drug officer's murder,Murder,Shooting
Neha Shoree’s murderer bout the weapon on March 12 after the code of conduct for the elections came into force.(HT PHOTO)

The man who gunned down woman drug officer Neha Shoree in Punjab’s Mohali district on Friday was issued a pistol licence on March 11 — when the poll code had kicked in.

According to documents accessed by HT, Rupnagar deputy commissioner Summeet K Jarangal had issued the licence to accused Balwinder Singh on March 11.

Balwinder, 49, had opened fire at Neha while she was in her office in Kharar before shooting himself with his .32 bore pistol. According to initial police probe, he was perturbed over having lost the licence to run a chemist shop in Morinda after Shoree, posted as a drug inspector in Rupnagar, had conducted a raid about a decade back.

“How was an arms licence issued when the model code of conduct was in force?” questioned the victim’s brother, Nishant Shoree, hinting at lapses on part of the district administration

Hinting towards a larger drug nexus behind the murder, Neha’s family also demanded a thorough probe into the killing. “It’s unprecedented for a person to take revenge after 11 years. Neha was performing her duty with honesty and has paid the price for that,” said her father Captain Kailash K Shoree, a 1971 war veteran who retired from the army in 1980.

The accused purchased the pistol for “self defence” from Vipan Gun House, Rupnagar, on March 12. The gun seller’s documents revealed that the weapon was sold with 20 cartridges.

“According to procedure, once the weapon is purchased, it is checked by the tehsildar and an entry is made into the records. However, it was not done,” said the Rupnagar DC.

With the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections, the model code of conduct came into force on March 10, following which all licensed weapons are to be deposited with police stations or gun houses.

“There is no restraint on issuing new arms licence under the model code of conduct. Balwinder had applied for the licence on January 17 and we received the police verification report on March 6, after which the licence was issued,” said Jarangal.

Punjab chief electoral officer (CEO) S Karuna Raju: “After the poll code came into force, all deputy commissioners and senior superintendents of police have been issued directions to get all licensed weapons deposited. We will look into the circumstances under which the arms licence was issued to Balwinder.”

Meanwhile, Punjab health and family welfare minister Brahm Mohindra, who visited Shoree’s family in Panchkula on Saturday, said: “She was an honest officer fighting drug menace. A thorough and speedy probe has been ordered. Anyone found negligent in any way will not be spared.”

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First Published: Mar 30, 2019 23:50 IST