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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Haryana Congress leader shot dead near Faridabad gym

Two armed men allegedly stepped out of the sedan. While one came in front of Chaudhary’s car, the other took position near the driver’s window. Police said the two men fired a total of 12 rounds at him.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2019 23:35 IST
Pavneet Singh Chadha
Pavneet Singh Chadha
HIndustan Times, Faridabad
Police investigate the car in which Vikas Choudhary was shot in Faridabad on June 27, 2019. (Photo by Subhash Sharma/Hindustan Times)
Police investigate the car in which Vikas Choudhary was shot in Faridabad on June 27, 2019. (Photo by Subhash Sharma/Hindustan Times)
         

Haryana Congress leader Vikas Chaudhary was shot dead by unidentified men outside a gym he used to frequent in Faridabad’s Sector 9 on Thursday morning. Chaudhary, 41, suffered at least 10 gunshot wounds in the chest, arm and neck, and was rushed to Sarvodaya Hospital in Sector 8, where he was declared dead on arrival.

Haryana police said personal enmity could be the reason behind the murder. Navdeep Singh Virk, Haryana’s additional director general of police (law and order), alleged on Twitter that the murder appeared to be connected to Chaudhary’s criminal background.

At 9.02am, Chaudhary, a spokesperson for the Congress in Haryana, had gone to a gym run by a hospital in Sector 9 for a regular workout. He had just parked his sports utility vehicle, a Toyota Fortuner, when a white sedan, a Maruti SX4,, in which four men were seated, stopped next to his car.

Two armed men allegedly stepped out of the sedan. While one came in front of Chaudhary’s car, the other took position near the driver’s window. Police said the two men fired a total of 12 rounds at him. The window pane on the driver’s side was completely shattered.

Rajesh Kumar, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), crime, said at least three shots hit him through the windshield and a majority of rounds were fired through the driver’s window. Police said the assailants escaped in the sedan after shooting him.

“Five crime teams are investigating and the police have received some leads in the case. Probe suggests that the accused men had done a reconnaissance of the area and were aware of Chaudhary’s gym timings,” said DCP Kumar.

Passersby and gym staff informed Chaudhary’s family. He was taken to the hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead.

A 47-second clip shot by a CCTV camera outside the gym shows a white sedan stopping near the victim’s car and two men stepping out. In the clip, it appears that a third person opens the car door at the back but the person does not step out. The two men take positions and fire multiple shots before escaping in the sedan.

A medical board at BK Hospital conducted an autopsy, but the family refused to accept Chaudhary’s body, demanding that the police arrest the killers within 24 hours.

The police said that the killing could be connected to Chaudhary’s alleged criminal past.

“As per leads so far, Vikas Chaudhary had a criminal background and 13 FIRs of extortion, kidnapping and attempt to murder were registered against him since 2007 in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh,” Virk wrote, adding that Faridabad’s commissioner of police was supervising the investigation.

He said Chaudhary had been declared a “bad character” -- a person with a history of crime -- at Sector 7 police station in Faridabad, and first information reports (FIRs) of assault and attempt to murder, among others, had been registered against him.

Hundreds of people including the victim’s family, acquaintances and local residents protested outside BK Hospital, condemning the deteriorating law-and-order situation in the city. Sanjay Kumar, the Faridabad police commissioner visited the hospital in the evening and assured the protesters that the assailants would be brought to book at the earliest.

Chaudhary’s father, RC Chaudhary, said his son had been associated with the Congress party for over five years. “He did not have enmity with anyone. From what I have seen in the CCTV, it seems to be the handiwork of professional shooters. Who is behind them, I cannot say.” He said a protest would be staged outside the civil hospital on Friday morning if the police fail to arrest the assailants of his son.

On a complaint by Chaudhary’s younger brother, Gaurav, a case of murder was registered against unidentified persons at the sector 7 police station on Thursday, the police said.

Chaudhary is survived by his wife and two daughters, one studying in Class 9 and the other in Class 2.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi condemned the killing. “The killing of Congress spokesperson and leader Vikas Chaudhary in Faridabad is a condemnable, shameful and tragic incident. It reflects the deteriorating law-and-order situation in Haryana. May God give his family the strength to bear this loss,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.

Rajiv Jain, media adviser to chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, said: “Though such incidents should not occur, these take place sometimes and it is not proper to say that the law-and-order situation has deteriorated or collapsed.”

First Published: Jun 27, 2019 23:35 IST

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