THE PUNJAB government found itself battling another controversy Saturday following the death of IAS officer Sanjay Popli’s son Kartik, even as a team had come to the officer’s home for a search, as part of investigations into corruption allegations.
There were several discrepancies in the version of officials, including between that of the police and Vigilance Bureau. Police personnel and Popli were accompanying the Vigilance team during the search.
Chandigarh Senior Superintendent of Police Kuldeep Chahal told The Indian Express that Kartik committed suicide with a licensed weapon, and that the Vigilance Bureau had “gone for some investigation, but had not entered the house, when there was this gunshot sound from inside”.
During the day, he had told mediapersons that Vigilance officials were in the house when the incident happened.
Chahal also claimed that officials rushed to the room from where the sound came, and found it locked. “When we broke open the door, we found he had committed suicide,” Chahal said.
At a press conference in the evening, the Vigilance Bureau denied Kartik’s mother Sri Popli’s claims that its officials had “killed” Kartik, while claiming they had “gone back” before the incident happened. Deputy Superintendent of Police Ajay Kumar said they had “left” after affecting recovery from “a store in the yard (of the house)”. “The Vigilance Bureau did not enter Popli’s house.”
A Vigilance Bureau officer told The Indian Express the Chandigarh police broke open the door to the room Kartik was in “20 minutes after he committed suicide”.
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There were also different versions regarding the weapon with which Kartik allegedly killed himself. A day after Popli’s arrest on June 20, the Vigilance Bureau claimed to have found “unaccounted cartridges”, reportedly not meant for any licensed weapon, during a search of his house. Popli was consequently booked under Sections of the Arms Act.
But, on Saturday after Kartik’s death, Vigilance Bureau officials involved in the investigations said the family owned a licensed weapon of 0.3 bore with 10 cartridges, which were not seized during the search as these were “legal”.
On why Popli’s family did not move the valuables the authorities claimed to have recovered on Saturday, following his arrest, an investigator said, “Popli might not have told them about the gold and other items recovered. Not all people tell everything to family members.”