Four days after liquor and real estate baron Ponty Chadha and his younger brother Hardeep apparently killed each other in a mysterious shootout in a Delhi farmhouse, investigators are still trying to piece together what exactly happened. On Tuesday, the police arrested four Ponty aides for trespassing.
A number of questions remain unanswered: Who fired first? How many rounds were fired? How long did the shootout last? Why were only two people killed and one injured if the shootout lasted between 30-45 minutes according to various witnesses? Was there a third group in the farmhouse too? Who do the AK-47 and automatic pistols found at the crime site belong to? Incidentally, the AK-47, an assault weapon, cannot be owned by private individuals.
Contradictory statements by witnesses haven’t helped investigators struggling to establish a sequence of events.
Sukhdev Singh Namdhari, the chairman of the Uttarakhand Minority Commission, who was with Ponty claimed Hardeep and his personal security guard opened fire first in an FIR that he filed. The FIR also states that Namdhari’s PSO, Sachin Tyagi, fired at Hardeep in self-defence. But three Punjab police men and two private gunmen who accompanied Hardeep denied using any firearms.
According to their statement, they were left behind and Ponty and Hardeep were killed even before they could enter the farmhouse.
Then we come to the dozen bullet wounds that Ponty’s body bore. Forensic experts say the bullets were from two different weapons. So did more than one person fire at Ponty?
DNA spoke to several witnesses in the area who had different versions of the events. A grocery shop owner said he heard eight shots while a real estate agent in the vicinity said as many as 60 rounds were fired.
Neighbours said the firing started around 11.30 am and continued till 12.15 pm.
“Single shots were fired at regular intervals and we could hear a person abusing loudly while the firing was going on,” said the real estate agent.
There was also a call made to the police control room at 11.50am but a patrol sent to the area sent a report back saying everything was fine.
Another eyewitness said he saw three vehicles headed towards the farmhouse at around 11.30 am. “Hardeep’s vehicle went towards the entrance of the farmhouse while the other two vehicles, in which his bodyguards were travelling, drove off,” said the eyewitness.
The real estate agent said most of the bodyguards or personal security officers ran for cover as soon as the firing started. “They were first to run from the scene. Some of them jumped over the boundary walls and fled while others took shelter behind trees,” he said. This raises questions about who fired the weapons that killed the brothers.