Kashipur, Uttarakhand: All that four-year-old Ridham wants is her mother Gurpreet Kaur to return home. Her father and local BJP leader Gurtaj Singh Bhullar has not found a way to explain the tragedy that befell on their family on the fateful evening of 12 October.
“He [policemen] shot at mamma on the shoulder from the stairs. She fell down. I watched her from behind the door. She hasn’t come home after that. I don’t know where she is. My mamma is very good. She makes me learn and comes to the school with me,” Ridham said with teary eyes before she rushed back to her friends.
Ridham and her five-month-old brother Jorawar are now left without their mother, who was killed by the Uttar Pradesh Police on Wednesday evening in her home during an operation to arrest a gangster at Bharatpur village in Uttarakhand’s Udhamsingh Nagar district.
Gurpreet’s kin claimed that she was a binding force for the extended family of more than 10 members.
Gurpreet’s husband Gurtaj is worried about how to move ahead in life with children without their mother.
“Gurpreet was everything for them [kids] as I often remained away from home. We had returned from Delhi hardly an hour before UP policemen barged in our house and killed my wife. Even a two-hour delay would have saved her. I am unable to answer the queries of Ridham when she talks about her mother. Why did they [UP cops] snatch away my children’s mother?” Gurtaj told ThePrint. “Imagine what can happen to a common man when it can happen to a ruling party leader.”
Ridham’s 80-year-old great-grandfather Kundan Singh Bhullar was inconsolable. “On Thursday when we returned home after the last rites, the child asked me that why we returned without her mother. It was very painful to hear that,” Bhullar said. “We don’t have a daughter. She was my daughter, not my daughter-in-law. UP cops did not even think twice before shooting a woman who was watching [from the first floor] what was happening on the ground. She was a devout woman who visited gurdwara every morning.”
The Bhullars and others present at their home claimed Gurpreet was shot at closely by the police team that forcibly entered the house and rushed to the first floor where ladies and other members were sitting together on Wednesday evening.
“One of them shot at Gurpreet as she rushed back downstairs after they barged into our room and faced opposition from shouting and crying women. I watched my sister-in-law falling down and shouted that ‘Gurpreet has been gunned down’,” Jasmeet Kaur, the wife of Gurtaj’s younger brother.
As per the Uttarakhand Police, UP cops were looking for notorious River Bed Material (RBM) mafia Zafar Ali of Moradabad’s Thakurdwara police station area, Kakarkhera Dilari.
“An FIR lodged at Thakurdwara Police station against Zafar and 35 others on Thursday says they came to Gurtaj’s home chasing Zafar Ali. This was opposed by the family members and others present at home, resulting into alleged cross-firing. The FIR lodged by UP police has been refuted by the Bhullar family. We have also filed a case against 10-12 UP policemen. Truth will be out after the investigation,” Station House Officer of Kunda Police station Dinesh Singh Fartyal told ThePrint.
The Thakurdwara FIR, a copy of which is with ThePrint, alleges that two members of the Special Operation Group (SOG) that was chasing Zafar and entered Bhullar’s house sustained bullet injuries. It says four SOG men were abducted by a mob and thrashed mercilessly. The injured SOG personnel are undergoing treatment, said the Uttarakhand Police.
Family demands CBI probe
The family of Gurpreet and Gurtaj have demanded for a CBI probe in the matter.
“We know that UP policemen who attacked us and killed Gurpreet were totally drunk but they fled from the hospital where they were taken for medical examination. Only a CBI probe can give justice to my wife. We demand from the Uttarakhand government and the Centre to order a CBI inquiry into the killing of my wife and the way the UP Police attacked us,” Gurtaj said.
Meanwhile, Moradabad police arrested Zafar on Friday night after an encounter at Pak Bada area near Moradabad-Delhi highway. This was confirmed by the office of Moradabad Range, Deputy Inspector General, Shalabh Mathur.
“Zafar Ali was arrested by the police after an encounter at Pak Bada area last night. More details will be available only after the probe,” Mathur’s public relation officer Neeraj Sharma informed ThePrint.
Zafar is one of the 19 mining mafia on whom UP’s Moradad Police had announced awards of Rs 50,000 each. He and 150 others are wanted in a case pertaining to an attack on Thakurdwara sub-divisional magistrate Parmanand Singh on 13 September.
As per Thakurdwara Police, a team of mining department led by Singh had seized five trucks carrying illegal riverbed material at Tikonia crossing on Thakurdwara-Kashipur crossing on 13 September. However, Zafar and 150 others attacked SDM and his team and freed four of the seized trucks. Later, Thakurdwara police registered an FIR against Zafar and his accomplices.
Meanwhile, as Thakurdwara police were on the lookout for Zafar, Gurtaj who is also a senior chairman of Kashipur block development committee (BDC) was asked by Zafar’s brother-in-law in Kashipur to help him in the matter.
“I knew Zafar through his brother-in-law who is also a Kashipur BDC member. Once I went to Thakurdwara police station with him to mediate in the matter, but requested the police to go with the law. However, I never knew it will lead to the death of my wife,” Gurtaj told ThePrint.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
Also Read: After BJP leader’s wife dies in Kashipur ‘crossfire’, cops booked in Uttarakhand-UP face-off