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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

On patrol, Uttar Pradesh cop shoots dead unarmed Apple executive in car

The two constables, identified as Prashant Chaudhary and Sandeep, were arrested on the basis of a First Information Report (FIR) lodged by the friend.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2018 23:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
The SUV that Apple executive Vivek Tiwari was driving when he was shot in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar on Saturday.
The SUV that Apple executive Vivek Tiwari was driving when he was shot in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar on Saturday. (PTI Photo)

Two Uttar Pradesh Police constables were arrested on Saturday after one of them allegedly shot dead a local executive of the tech company, Apple Inc., when he tried to drive away after being questioned in the upscale Gomti Nagar neighbourhood of Lucknow, investigators said.

Vivek Tiwari, 38, was travelling in the vehicle with a female friend, a former colleague, when the incident took place well past midnight on Friday.

The two constables, identified as Prashant Chaudhary and Sandeep, were arrested on the basis of a First Information Report (FIR) lodged by the friend, the police said.

Tiwari’s family members sought the intervention of chief minister Yogi Adityanth into alleged foul play in the incident, and an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

UP police have been engaged in a months-long drive against crime, allegedly gunning down dozens of suspected gangsters. As news of Tiwari’s death spread, UP Congress president, Raj Babbar, tweeted that the “encounter raj” in the state was out to kill innocent people and spare real criminals. Chief minister, Yogi Aditynath, said on Saturday that “this was not an encounter.” The incident comes two months after the Supreme Court sought a response from the UP government on a petition alleging that several fake encounters had taken place in the state.

The police initially said the constable may have fired in self-defence, but later conceded that excessive force had been used by the policemen. “This is a shameful incident for us,” Uttar Pradesh additional director general of police (law and order) Anand Kumar said.

“Prima facie it is a murder case… The principle of law is clear that the right of self-defence cannot exceed the perceived threat,” Kumar said.

The two constables were sacked and arrested on the basis of murder charges in the FIR lodged by Tiwari’s former colleague, Sana Khan. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed to probe the case. Adityanath said the case could be handed over to the CBI. A magisterial inquiry was also ordered into the incident.

Home minister and member of Parliament from Lucknow, Rajnath Singh, said he spoke to the Uttar Pradesh CM about the incident. “I have asked for an effective and just probe,” Singh tweeted. UP DGP OP Singh called the incident a criminal act. “Initial findings suggest that the constable acted beyond the limit of self-defence,” he said, adding that a case of murder had been filed and a fair investigation would be conducted.

Tiwari and his friend were sitting in a parked SUV at around 1.30am on Saturday when the two policemen on patrol duty approached them, the police said. SSP Kalanidhi Naithani said the constables questioned the duo because they felt “there was some suspicious activity”. He said Tiwari tried to reverse the car and drive away, allegedly hitting the motorcycle of the policemen.

It was around this time, Tiwari’s friend later told the police, that she heard a gunshot. The police later said a bullet had pierced the windscreen of the car. The vehicle suddenly speeded up and crashed into the pillar of a flyover nearby, the police quoted Khan as saying.

She later told reporters that the two policemen left the spot after the incident. “For some reason, I wasn’t carrying a phone on me... So I approached truck drivers to call the police control room for help,” she said.

Naithani said the woman called up the police for help following which Tiwari was taken to a hospital. Devendra Singh Negi, the director of Lohia Hospital, where Tiwari was taken, said he had a bullet injury near the ear on the left side. “He died during treatment,” he said.

The executive is survived by his wife, and two daughters, aged seven and 12. “Why did the police kill him?... Was he a terrorist,” Tiwari’s wife Kalpana said, demanding that CM Adityanath explain in person why her husband had been shot.

A spokesperson for Apple, the Cupertino-based tech giant that employed Singh in Lucknow, said: “We are shocked and heartbroken by the news of death of our colleague Vivek Tiwari. We extend our deepest sympathies to Vivek’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

The two policemen were brought to the hospital for medical investigations at 9am on Saturday. Chaudhary, the constable who opened fire, said he saw a suspicious car with its lights switched off. “When I approached the car, the driver (Vivek Tiwari) tried to run over me thrice to kill me. I fired a bullet in self-defence, he then immediately took off from the spot,” he told reporters.

Later in the day, Chaudhary changed his statement and said he pulled out the pistol to threaten the driver, but discharged the weapon accidentally.

First Published: Sep 29, 2018 23:17 IST