A group of Uttar Pradesh police officers face murder charges in neighbouring Uttarakhand after the wife of a BJP leader was killed in a shootout that took place when the cops were chasing a wanted criminal last evening.
The woman who was killed was Gurpreet Kaur, 28, the wife of local BJP leader Gurtaj Bhullar. Five policemen from UP's Moradabad were injured in the incident, which has sparked a row between the police of two BJP-ruled states.
The UP police team had gone to a village in Jaspur in Uttarakhand on Wednesday to catch a criminal called Jaafar, allegedly from the mining mafia, who had a bounty of Rs 50,000 on his head.
During the chase, which began near Moradabad, Jaafar crossed the border into Uttarakhand, and according to the police, took shelter at a farmhouse belonging to Mr Bhullar.
When the policemen reached the spot, a clash broke out and shots were fired. Gurpreet Kaur was allegedly killed in the crossfire.
Two UP police officials were also shot at.
After the death of the BJP leader's wife, angry villagers allegedly took four policemen hostage and took away their weapons. Two policemen are missing.
"The accused is a wanted criminal carrying a reward of Rs 50,000. He escaped from there (Bharatpur village). When our police team reached, they were taken hostage and their weapons were snatched," senior Moradabad police officer Shalabh Mathur said, as quoted by news agency ANI.
The Uttarakhand police have registered a case against the UP police for the murder of the woman, alleging gross negligence.
"The UP police didn't inform any senior officer of the Uttarakhand police. They didn't even inform the local police station. They had no warrant, they were in civilian dress, is this how a raid is conducted? They came and started firing inside the farmhouse which killed an innocent woman," said senior Uttarakhand police officer Neelesh Anand.
But Moradabad officer Hemant Kutiyal alleged that the Bhullars were trying to hide the criminal. The BJP leader denied it strongly.
"There was no standoff between the locals and the police, the police came and started firing, we did not capture the policemen, we handed them over to the Uttarakhand police," said Gurtaj Bhullar.
While five UP policemen are in hospital, the criminal is still missing.