New Delhi: The mystery over the shootout that led to the death of liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his brother Hardeep has deepened. It was earlier believed that the Saturday encounter between the two brothers was sparked off by Mr Chadha's alleged attempt to lock up the Chhattarpur farmhouse that he and his brother Hardeep had a dispute over. But now a man close to the family has rejected this theory.
Paramjeet Singh Sarna, who is the brother of Hardeep's father-in-law, has told NDTV that there was no property dispute between the brothers. He claims he mediated between the two earlier and had resolved all outstanding property disputes between them. Mr Sarna also said he does not believe a dispute over the farmhouse, where the shooting took place, was the trigger for the killings.
Meanwhile, a forensic team reached the farmhouse today to continue their investigation and reconstruct the sequence of events that they believe led to the shootout. While several people have been questioned by the police in connection with this case, no arrests have been made so far.
Mr Chadha and his estranged brother were cremated on Sunday after confusion over his post-mortem which was conducted twice as some bullets were left in his body. The shootout happened on Saturday around 1 pm. Mr Chadha suffered 15 bullet wounds and Hardeep four.
According to the police, Mr Chadha, whose real name is Gurdeep, visited the farmhouse at around 10.30 am on Saturday with his friend Sukhdev Singh, who heads the Uttarakhand Minorities Commission.
Mr Chadha, 55, allegedly asked his men to dab black paint over the farmhouse board carrying Hardeep's name. An enraged Hardeep, investigators said, got a wind of this and rushed to the farmhouse from Noida around noon.
Police said Hardeep first ran into Mr Chadha's aide Narender at the farmhouse gates and shot him. He then fired several shots at Mr Chadha and his SUV, using his licenced 9-mm pistol.
Mr Singh told the police that Hardeep then turned the gun on him and fired twice, following which his personal security officer Sachin Tyagi from the Uttarakhand police opened fire in retaliation.
Mr Tyagi has been detained, but the police are yet to arrest him.
The police have registered a murder and attempt to murder case. Another case of trespassing and kidnapping has been registered on the complaint of Hardeep's aide Nandlal, who told the police that Mr Chadha, after arriving at the farmhouse, confined him and some other employees to a room.
Fifteen people are being questioned in the case; call records of Mr Chadha are also being checked.
The three Chadha brothers - Ponty, Hardeep and Rajinder - were jointly managing the estimated Rs. 6,000-crore Wave Inc, formerly the Chadha Group, which has diverse business interests in fields ranging from distilleries, multiplexes, sugar to paper mills.
Mr Chadha was thought to have been close to several prominent politicians. He hit the headlines in February this year when income tax officials conducted searches at his premises in Delhi, Noida, Moradabad and Lucknow.
(With PTI inputs)