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Shooting clean chit to Punjab cops

New Delhi, Nov. 18: Delhi police today claimed that the Punjab police escorts accompanying Hardeep and Ponty Chadha took no part in the farmhouse gunfight that killed the brothers yesterday.

A senior officer said Hardeep began the shooting and killed Ponty, and hired hands from both sides joined in along with an Uttarakhand police guard accompanying Ponty’s friend, the hill state’s minority panel chief Sukhdev Singh Namdhari.

The Telegraph had reported yesterday that each of the brothers had arrived with three personal security officers (PSOs) from Punjab police, one of whom got injured and the rest were detained by Delhi police.

That the brothers had obtained such official security from Punjab, where their group had sugar and paper mills, is testimony to the political clout they wielded in many north Indian states.

Today, the Delhi police pieced together eyewitness statements to provide a clearer account of the incident, which deviated in certain details from the version they had given yesterday.

They said the brothers hadn’t called a meeting to thresh out their disputes. Ponty had come to take forcible possession of the farmhouse that Hardeep controlled, and the latter rushed from Noida to thwart him when he got wind of it.

The sequence of events cited by the police today:

Around 10.30am, Ponty gathered his men at his home, 21 DLF Farms in south Delhi’s Chattarpur, where he kept a fleet of 30-odd expensive cars, including Jaguars, Mercs, BMWs and Maybachs. He asked them to evict Hardeep’s men from 42 DLF Farms, about 100 metres away.

The men reached the farmhouse, threw out Hardeep’s staff, locked the gates and blackened the nameplate at the gate. Apparently, Ponty was furious that Hardeep was trying to sell the farmhouse without his consent and had put up a “for sale” sign.

Around noon, Ponty and his friend Namdhari, manager Narender, and Namdhari’s security guards reached the farmhouse in a Land Cruiser.

Hardeep cut short a meeting to reach the farmhouse with his bodyguards a few minutes later.

On arrival, Hardeep whipped out his 9mm pistol to shoot at Narender, then at the Land Cruiser’s bonnet and finally at Ponty who was inside the SUV, parked at the gate.

Hardeep then took out his 76mm Beretta Silver Pigeon shotgun and began firing in all directions.

To save Namdhari, PSO Sachin Tyagi of the Uttarakhand police shot at Hardeep from his 9mm carbine. Guards from either side, but not the Punjab cops, began firing.

The police have registered two conflicting FIRs. One, based on Namdhari’s complaints, alleges murder, attempt to murder and Arms Act violations. The other is based on a complaint from Hardeep’s manager accusing Ponty and his men of trespass and murder.

Visitors to Ponty’s home today included the who’s who of the liquor business in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab.