New Delhi: Delhi Police on Friday tracked down sacked chairman of Uttarakhand Minorities Commission Sukhdev Singh Namdhari and started questioning him in connection with the double murder case of liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his brother Hardeep. Namdhari is being questioned at his farmhouse in Bazpur in Uttarakhand.
Police claim Namdhari reached his farmhouse a short while ago. The police were on a lookout for Namdhari as he was present at the spot where Ponty and his brother shot at each other. But his phone was switched off and the police were't able to locate him.
Earlier in the day, a team of Delhi Police conducted raids at properties owned by Namdhari. The raids were also reportedly carried out in and around Bazpur late Thursday evening. Sources said some people were also detained during the raids. Namdhari was associated with Ponty for 22 years and sources suggest that he and Ponty had similar business interests.
Police had on Thursday claimed that Namdhari's men could have aided the liquor baron in taking control of the disputed farmhouse hours before the killings. Ponty and Hardeep, the brothers who had dispute over properties, were killed when both sides opened fire at each other last Saturday in a farmhouse owned by their family.
Prior to the gunbattle at 12:30 pm on Saturday, which claimed the lives of the Chadha brothers, Ponty's men had allegedly entered the farmhouse at around 11 am, fired in air and snatched mobiles of Hardeep's staff before throwing them out. "Some people have given us statements that Namdhari's men were also part of the group (that trespassed into the Chhattarpur farmhouse). We are verifying that," Vivek Gogia, Joint Commissioner of Police (South-West), told reporters on Thursday.
Claiming that "no clean chit" has been given to anyone, he said they will talk to Namdhari whenever there is a need. However, he did not give a direct reply when asked about reports that Namdhari was absconding. "We would like to talk to him. He is not with us. Whenever there is a need, we will talk to him," he said while avoiding repeated questions about Namdhari's whereabouts.
Asked when was the last time investigators spoke to him, Gogia said police were in touch with him. Police also arrested Mathura Singh Mehra, a 30-year-old servant of Ponty's family, in connection with the Chattarpur farmhouse trespass case. "He was working with Ponty for seven years. He was dealing in the upkeep of the house. He assisted Ponty's men. He was aware of the attempts at Chattarpur and Bjiwasan. He gave them the weapons," Gogia said.
Gogia said he would not reveal how many bullets were fired in the incident. "Wait for the forensic report," he said when asked whether Namdhari had also opened fire. Gogia also said police do not have evidence to book Namdhari for trespass as of now. "He had gone with Ponty and this could be construed as trespass on the part of Namdhari. We have to corroborate this. We don't have evidence now," he said.
The official also refused to answer questions on whether the statements of Narender, the manager of Ponty who was injured in the shootout, matched with the versions given by Namdhari and others. Police have so far arrested seven persons in connection with the trespass in Chattarpur and Bijwasan farmhouses.
(With additional information from PTI)