Rise and fall of a liquor baron

A week after a gunfight between controversial liquor and real estate businessman Gurdeep Singh Chadha alias Ponty Chadha and his younger brother Hardeep Chadha at their farmhouse in south Delhi’s Chattarpur area over a property dispute, in which both were killed, investigators are yet to get to the bottom of it.

Ponty Chadha, whose business empire is worth over Rs 10,000 crore and spread across several states, had business and property dispute with younger brother Hardeep Chadha. The differences were in the process of being mediated by their family members, friends and businessmen associated with them.

The two families actually lived together, at 21 DLF Central Drive farmhouse. A day before the gunfight took place on November 17, they met to sort out the differences. Not only that. On November 17 also they met at their home before their mother and family members to iron out their differences.

Both the brothers were also in touch with lawyers and family friends to amicably iron  wrap up the dispute. In fact, Ponty Chadha met Commissioner of Delhi Police Neeraj Kumar three days before the gunfight and narrated his problem with his brothers, and sought advice.

“Despite that, a fatal confrontation took place and both were killed on November 17 at 42 DLF Central Drive farmhouse,” says a senior police officer. Investigators believe that the property dispute triggered the confrontation.

But one question still remains unanswered. When they were trying to sort out the differences, why would they get into a gunfight? Police, after quizzing around 100 people so far, have not come up with the exact reason behind the shoot-out.

Fatal fight

On November 17, after the 9.30 am meeting between the two brothers at their home, Hardeep went to his office at Noida.

Meanwhile, Ponty Chadha along with the now sacked associate,  Uttarakhand Minority Commission chairman Sukhdev Singh Namdhari, called up 30 to 40 musclemen, including two personal security officers.

He divided them into two groups and sent them to two different farmhouses — 42 DLF Central Drive in Chattarpur and C 98 at Bijwasan in Kapashera — to forcibly take possession as Hardeep’s staff was staying over there and the properties were in Hardeep’s possession.

“Two sets of the group entered the farmhouses in Chattarpur and Bijwasan on November 17 morning, beat up Hardeep’s men and forcibly took possession of the farmhouses. At Chattarpur, these men fired several rounds in the air to scare Hardeep’s staff,” says joint commissioner of police (south-west) Vivek Gogia.

When the farmhouses were taken into possession, Ponty, along with Namdhari and his PSO Sachin Tyagi,  and his chief security officer Narendra Alawat went to  42 DLF Central Drive farmhouse to check its status.

Meanwhile, Hardeep too rushed from Noida to the farmhouse and was shocked to find Narendra Alawat locking its gates. He asked to move away, but when Narendra did not heed his warning, he open fired at Narendra in his thighs, police said.

In the meantime, Ponty, who was in a Land Cruiser along with Namdhari, came out of the vehicle and started arguing with Hardeep. Hardeep, police said, then fired at Ponty’s legs, and then  also pumped four bullets into his chest and abdomen, according to one version.

Namdhari told police that Hardeep then  pointed the gun towards him. At this point, his PSO Sachin Tyagi fired three rounds from his carbine, two of them hitting Hardeep. Namdhari then rushed Ponty to Fortis Hospital in Vasant Kunj, where doctors declared him brought dead. Hardeep moved inside the farmhouse and died there. Narendra Alawat was rushed to Medicity in Gurgaon.

Police negligence

The incident could have been averted had police acted swiftly, and probed properly into whether a Delhi Police control room van responded in time after  a telephone call about a scuffle and firing in the air. This happened a little before the killing of the two brothers.

Ponty’s men had attacked Hardeep’s farmhouses in Bijwasan and Chattarpur first at 11 am, and fired some shots in the air during the scuffle at the Chattarpur farmhouse. One of Hardeep’s men had made a PCR call at around 11.50 am. But the PCR van found nothing and returned.

Half-an-hour after the first PCR call was made, at around 12.28 pm, police received another call from the same farmhouse regarding a shoot-out and killing of two persons. Later, the deceased were identified as Ponty Chadha and Hardeep Chadha.

Cases registered

After the incident, three FIRs were registered — two with Mehrauli police station and one with Kapashera. The two cases were filed over the statement of Hardeep’s staff of trespassing and kidnapping. The third one by Namdhari was over attempt to murder. So far eight persons, including Namdhari, have been arrested in the case in the last one week.

Post-mortem report

Ponty had seven bullet wounds and Hardeep died with two bullets in the upper chest. While four were recovered from Ponty’s body, the rest might be at the crime scene. No bullets were recovered from Hardeep’s body.

According to the reports, the two bullets lodged in Ponty’s thigh were the first ones to hit him, due to which he could not move away from the car. Another two bullets were shot in Ponty’s abdomen and the remaining two in the upper back. Hardeep received two bullet injuries and both of them passed through the body.

There was a major goof up with the post-mortem on November 18 when police had to take back Ponty Chadha's body  for the second time to conduct another autopsy as bullets were left in his body.

Mystery remains

Though Delhi Police have visited the crime scene more than six times and tried to recreate the sequence of the gunfight with the help of ballistic and forensic teams, they have not come to any conclusion about the sequence.

They are trying to ascertain if Hardeep had really fired to kill. After all, he fired at Narendra Alawat only in the thigh. The first shots which hit Ponty too were in the legs.

Second, from which weapons did Ponty get his bullet injuries? What made Namdhari’s PSO Sachin Tyagi to fire at Hardeep’s upper body when, to save Namdhari, he could have fired on his legs?

What triggered the gunfight between the brothers when they were still in the process of amicably solving the property dispute? What led Ponty Chadha to forcibly take possession of the farmhouses?

Investigators have arrested eight persons in the case so far, but not one has been charged for murder. “We have not given anyone a clean chit with their arrest. We will be able to ascertain the exact sequence of the incident,” said deputy commissioner of police (south) Chhaya Sharma.

Latest revelation

A day after Namdhari was arrested, police on Saturday said he has admitted that he had fired at Hardeep with his pistol when Hardeep pointed his gun at him.

Police now say Namdhari is the main conspirator in the shoot-out as he was involved in vandalising the farmhouse, besides in the looting, robbery and attempt to murder there.

“He is the main culprit as he in his FIR earlier had not disclosed about the firing and had also hidden his gun,” says a police officer. A Delhi court has remanded Namdhari to five day's police custody.

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