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Ponty details unclear: Cops

Ponty Chadha

New Delhi, Nov. 19: Delhi police today said they were no longer sure “who fired first and who shot whom” during Saturday’s farmhouse gunfight that killed liquor baron Ponty Chadha and brother Hardeep.

“We have received contradictory statements from eyewitnesses. We are questioning the hired hands (private security guards) from both sides who joined in the firing,” joint commissioner Vivek Gogia said.

Based on initial eyewitness accounts, the police had earlier said that Hardeep, 49, had gunned down Ponty, 55, before being shot dead by an Uttarakhand police constable escorting Ponty’s friend and the hill state’s minority panel chief, Sukhdev Singh Namdhari.

“We are waiting for autopsy, ballistic and forensic reports to ascertain who fired at whom,” Gogia said today.

Officers also retracted the earlier claim that the sole trigger for the shootout was Ponty’s alleged attempt to grab the Chattarpur farmhouse in south Delhi that Hardeep controlled.

But it remained unclear whether they were referring to the brothers’ wider feud over control of the family’s Rs 12,000-20,000cr business empire since their father’s death last year, as reported before. Questioned, the officers clammed up, refusing to say what additional disputes the brothers may have had.

“We spoke to the families of both brothers and they too rejected the property angle. We have got some clues about other possible reasons but can’t reveal them,” an officer said.

Two of Ponty’s private security guards were arrested today but the police said they were not part of the group that had barged into the Chattarpur farmhouse to evict Hardeep’s staff.

“The duo were part of a team that tried to take possession of another farmhouse controlled by Hardeep at Bijwasan in southwest Delhi the same day,” an officer said. “We are questioning them to find out more about the members of the Chattarpur group.”

Police sources said some 25 hired hands from both sides were present during the shooting but had all gone into hiding. The shooting continued for 15-25 minutes and 12 weapons, including three AK-47s, were later seized from the farmhouse, they added.

The police said they had questioned 100 people, including family members, Namdhari, the three Punjab policemen escorting each brother and the Uttarakhand cop.