Chandigarh, Nov. 3: A student returning home from a party last night was mistaken for a wanted criminal and shot dead by Haryana police, but a senior officer blamed the accidental firing on bad roads.
A friend riding pillion on Kuldips bike, however, said the drunk cops fired on them indiscriminately without warning and left without bothering to take the 21-year-old to hospital once they realised their mistake.
The Haryana government has ordered a probe by a magistrate and arrested Karambir Singh, the constable who pulled the trigger. Cases have been registered against all the eight policemen involved in the shooting in Bhiwani town, 300km from Chandigarh.
The killing, a little after midnight, sparked widespread protests today by students and an attack on a police station by a mob, which burnt a police motorcycle.
He was murdered in cold blood, Kuldips brother Vikas said.
Kuldip, a final-year BA student, would have got married in February. The second of three brothers, he worked part-time for his uncle, an advocate, and also helped his father Satpal run their four-acre farm.
He had no criminal record, Vikas added. They just killed him as if they had to kill somebody last night. They were all in civilian clothes.
The police, however, claimed the firing was accidental and said the gun went off because of the bad road conditions.
Anil Rao, the police chief of adjoining Hisar district, said his force had laid a trap to catch Dara, a suspect in a robbery case.
The police had barricaded the road following information that Dara would be going to Bhiwani. Kuldip, who was with two others on his motorcycle, was asked to stop but sped away towards his residence in a nearby colony. They were apprehended after a short chase. The shot was fired accidentally, Rao said.
But Kuldips friend Hukum Singh, who was riding pillion, said the police started firing indiscriminately without any warning.
Kuldip was shot from point-blank range by the policemen who were in an inebriated state. When they realised their mistake, they left immediately without even bothering to take Kuldip to the hospital.
Haryana police chief Ranjiv Dalal said the shooting was a case of mistaken identity but added that Kuldip did not stop after being asked to. But he said the guilty would be punished.
Chief minister B.S. Hooda said the killing was wrong.
The Haryana government announced a compensation of Rs 7 lakh but Kuldips family has refused to accept it.
The slain student was cremated under strict police security this afternoon.
Shops, schools and colleges remained closed for most part of the day in Bhiwani in protest against the killing.
This was the second civilian death in police firing in the state in two months. In early September, a teacher died during a demonstration in Rohtak.