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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Fake encounter whiff

Feb. 12: A pellet fired from a countrymade weapon has been recovered from the body of the driver who was injured in yesterday's encounter in which a businessman from Uttar Pradesh was gunned down by six policemen from Hazaribagh who chased him 40 km into Bihar.

The startling find coincided with the Hazaribagh police chief's admission that there was 'something fishy' in the encounter. The businessman, identified as one 'Prahlad', was killed and the driver, Md Hafiz, injured when the police chased their Qualis from Chouparan in Hazaribagh up to Barachatti in Bihar, 53 km away. The driver sustained bullet injuries and has been admitted in a hospital in Gaya. Six policemen have already been suspended for the incident.

According to Magadh Medical College Hospital sources, the pellet retrieved from the body of the driver was from a countrymade weapon and did not belong to any regular firearm used by the police. Hafiz's X-ray report shows two more pellets that are yet to be retrieved.

Hafiz, speaking from his hospital bed, told The Telegraph that he along with two others 'Prahlad of Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh and one Fareed ' was passing through Chouparan on Thursday night when some uniformed men signalled them to stop. Taking the uniformed men to be road robbers, the driver accelerated the vehicle, a Qualis. But at Barachatti, the men in police uniform, who were in a jeep, opened fire and damaged the vehicle.

The men then came near the vehicle and fired from close range, killing Prahlad and injuring Hafiz. The third man managed to escape.

What lends credence to Hafiz's version is the police disclosure today that the patrol team had given chase in a Mahindra jeep, which was designed in such a manner so as not to resemble a police vehicle. Questions have already been raised about the Hazaribagh police claim that the occupants of the Qualis fired at the patrol team since there is no bullet mark on the police jeep and neither was any policeman injured.

Hazaribagh superintendent of police Ashish Batra sent a report to home secretary J.B Tubid today, in which he admitted that there was something wrong in the encounter.

Batra based his conclusions on the basis of the report of Barhi deputy superintendent of police Satish Prasad, who said junior sub-inspector Binod Kumar Singh, in his statement, charged his team with opening fire on the Qualis without his consent.

According to the report of Batra, Binod Singh said he and his team had chased the Qualis up to Suryamandal in Barachatti. There, Singh said, policeman Ahmed Hussain fired a round from his carbine and another, Baleshwar Yadav, fired three rounds from his self-loading rifle. Singh blamed the duo for not obeying his orders.

Batra said the policemen claimed they opened fire in 'self-defence'. But DSP Prasad, in his report, termed the statement of the policemen false as they did not 'match' the circumstances at the spot.

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