4 Ponty men held, police say gunfight lasted 20 minutes
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Udayraj Singh (UP PSO for Ponty), Bhupinder Singh Bisht (was leading the men), Rajpal (UP PSO for Ponty's daughter) and Anand Singh Bisht (driver) were arrested for assaulting Hardeep's men stationed at 42, DLF Chhattarpur Farms on Saturday, around an hour before the shootout. Ponty and Hardeep were killed in the exchange of gunfire.
According to police, the four arrested were part of Ponty's staff. They had barged into the farmhouse, assaulted and then abducted Hardeep's men after snatching their mobile phones and fired in the air, police said.
Police said this clash took place between 11 am and 11.30 am on Saturday. During the same period, another set of Ponty's staff clashed with Hardeep's men at the Chadhas' Bijwasan farmhouse in Southwest Delhi. According to police, Ponty's men were at Bijwasan farmhouse to take possession of the place.
"The incidents at Bijwasan and Chhattarpur were reported simultaneously, between 11 am and 11.30 am. Hardeep was in Noida at the time and was informed of the clashes. He immediately rushed to the Chhattarpur farmhouse. The shootout started after 12 noon and lasted for about 20 minutes," police said.
Police said no firing was reported from the farmhouse in Bijwasan. Two of Ponty's men were arrested for this clash.
Police said a resident called them at 11.50 am on Saturday to report the scuffle between Ponty and Hardeep at the Chhattarpur farmhouse. But the police personnel who went to the spot to check on the complaint returned after noting that everything was "peaceful".
Forty minutes later, police rushed to the Chhattarpur farmhouse again after they were informed about firing in the area at 12.28 pm.
Police said when the team reached the spot Hardeep's body was on the ground, with two pistols. Six men, including his driver and three Punjab policemen, were there and two cars were parked nearby — a Scorpio and a Mercedes. Police were told that one person was taken to Fortis Hospital.
He was later identified as Ponty.
Police did not comment on whether the shootout could be averted if the response to the first call — made at 11.50 am — had been better. "The PCR was informed about a scuffle and there was no mention of a firing incident in the call," an officer said.
A team of five doctors from AIIMS visited the Chhattarpur farmhouse to verify their findings of autopsies. They examined six bullet holes at the farmhouse with the help of police officers, who attempted to reconstruct the shootout.
The account of eyewitnesses will be corroborated with the CCTV footage of the farm, police said. The weapons recovered from the spot have been sent for scrutiny and autopsy reports are awaited.
'Integrity doubtful', Namdhari sacked
Sukhdev Singh Namdhari was removed from the post of chairman of Uttarakhand Minorities Commission on Tuesday. The state government asked him to step down in the wake of the shootout at Ponty Chadha's Chhattarpur farmhouse, to which Namdhari was an eyewitness. His securityman, Sachin Tyagi, had also opened fire during the shootout.
Uttarakhand government said Namdhari was removed in "public interest" after his integrity was found "questionable/doubtful".
"The chairman of Uttarakhand Minorities Commission Sukhdev Singh Namdhari has been removed from his post with immediate effect in public interest after his integrity became/found questionable/ doubtful)," said a release issued in the name of Secretary of the Minority (Welfare), M H Khan, by the state's PR department on Tuesday.
According to Khan, there are 14 cases registered against Namdhari in the state. Of these, two criminal cases — dacoity and attempt to murder — are pending in the court, the release said.
The government said the fact that Namdhari was at the farmhouse at the time of the shootout makes his "integrity more doubtful".
Namdhari came close to liquor baron Ponty about a decade ago due to the latter's growing interest in mining business in the state. He was appointed chairman in March 2010.