Two warring brothers, a united family
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For a family that had been torn apart with two of its members training their guns on each other, the Chadhas and their well-wishers put up a calm and united front for several hours.
Close to a hundred of them waited patiently outside the AIIMS mortuary from 10 in the morning, waiting for the procedure to end, so that Gurdeep Singh Chadha alias Ponty and his younger brother Hardeep could be taken home one last time.
At 4.15 pm, very peacefully the two bodies were put on ambulances adorned with flowers and everybody left for the Chhattarpur farmhouse, the residence of the two brothers.
Two hours later, the entire entourage was back. But the calm had given way to anger.
Alighting from their cars at 6.30 pm at AIIMS, angry family members narrated stories of how the ambulances never reached the farmhouse. They were stopped metres away by policemen who said bullets were still inside Ponty's body.
Chadha's son, angry at the to and fro, was heard speaking to policemen. "How have you let this happen? People have been waiting at the crematorium for hours because we were supposed to take the bodies there after Chhattarpur. And now you tell us that we have to come back here because the post mortem is not complete? We will wait here for one hour, and then we will go to the crematorium," he said.
Police officers tried to explain that "it was part of their investigation". "Please try and understand. We cannot allow the body to be cremated with bullets still in his body," an officer said.
Fearing anger might spill into violence, constables lined up near the mortuary, stopping anyone but close family from going through.
At the Lodhi Crematorium, several hundreds stood in wait for the Chadhas from 4 in the afternoon. "I saw the obituary in the papers. It said the cremation would be at 4.30 pm. Later, we heard that since the body was released only at 4.15 pm, and the cremation was postponed to 6.30 pm. Now we hear that it will be around 9 pm, because the hospital and the police have committed some bungle. But I will stay. He was an important symbol for the Sikh community," said Harpreet Singh, who met Ponty at Gurdwara Rakabganj. He said he knew Ponty for the past six years.