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Body at Forest Hill resort: Finally, Lt Col Sandhu turns himself in

Murder charge dropped: Says body was disposed of out of fear, gets bail after being held for causing death due to negligence.

punjab Updated: May 17, 2018 11:22 IST
Shailee Dogra
Shailee Dogra
Hindustan Times, Mohali
Body at Forest Hill resort,Body at resort,CTU staffer found dead
Lt Col Sandhu (retd)(File Photo)

After being on the run for 50 days, Lt Col BS Sandhu (retd), chairman of Worldwide Immigration Consultancy Services (WWICS) and owner of Forest Hill Resort in Nayagaon, on Wednesday joined probe in the case involving the death of a Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) staffer, Abhishek Guleria, 28.

A special investigation team (SIT) of Punjab Police is probing the case.

Guleria’s body was recovered from Pinjore on March 25. Probe had led police to Sandhu’s resort in Nayagaon. Three employees, who were arrested for murder, had claimed that they found the body in a septic tank on March 22 and disposed it of at Sandhu’s behest to avoid controversy. Sandhu, who has been named in the FIR, had been eluding police since then.

After Sandhu turned himself in, police dropped the murder charge in the case. He was arrested under Sections 304A (causing death due to negligence) and 201 (destruction of evidence) and released on bail on furnishing Rs 50,000 bonds along with a surety of the same amount. Both charges are bailable.

Case so far
  • March 25: Haryana Police recover body of missing CTU staffer in Pinjore
  • March 26: Mohali police arrest three employees of Forest Hill Resort for murder. They claim body was disposed of at Lt Col Sandhu’s behest
  • March 27: Police summon Sandhu to join investigations
  • March 29: Three-member special investigating team constituted
  • March 31: Non-bailable arrest warrants issued against Sandhu
  • April 5: Sandhu moves plea in Mohali court seeking anticipatory bail
  • April 12: HC refuses to entertain similar plea, calling it premature
  • April 18: Lower court dismisses plea too
  • May 16: Lt Col Sandhu joins investigations

Quizzed for 10 hours

According to sources, Sandhu joined the investigations around 8am and was questioned for around 10 hours.

“Sandhu said it was out of fear of getting embroiled in another controversy that he asked his employees to dispose of the body,” said a senior police officer, on the basis of anonymity.

On not joining the probe till now, Sandhu is learnt to have claimed that he was not well and undergoing treatment and came as soon as he recovered.

“Sandhu has joined the investigations. He has been charged with causing death by negligence as he is the resort owner and failed to ensure that the septic tank was covered,” said inspector general of police V Neeraja of the Rupnagar range.

Meanwhile, Mohali senior superintendent of the police (SSP) Kuldeep Singh Chahal said: “Investigations revealed that Sandhu did not know the deceased or had any kind of interaction with him. As no motive for murder could be established, we have dropped the charges. However, as the resort employees after finding the body had covered the septic tank with a net, it pointed to their negligence.”

Even the postmortem report that had mentioned drowning as the cause of death worked in Sandhu’s favour.

The three accused resort employees — liasoning officer Gurvinder Bains, his assistant Tarsem Singh and security in-charge Balwinder Singh— are currently in judicial custody.

Police found an audio recording on Bains’ phone, in which Sandhu can be heard allegedly instructing his employees to dispose of the body.

“Plan ke hissab se karo (do as per the plan),” were the instructions allegedly passed to Bains over the phone after the body was found in the tank.

On the basis of this evidence, police have pressed the charges of destruction of evidence.

Why murder charge was dropped

1. Victim’s postmortem report established the his death was due to drowning

2. As the lid of the water tank was left open, it was seen as negligence on the part of the owner and employees

3. Police claim there was no motive of murder as Sandhu did not know the victim

4. Probe revealed the three employees were just obeying Sandhu’s order

First Published: May 17, 2018 11:22 IST