The Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the Punjab Government to probe the Neha Shoree murder case has found the name and number of the killer saved on her phone. This has perplexed the investigators, who are now probing why the number of a controversial chemist was saved on the phone of a zonal licensing authority.
Neha was shot dead by Balwinder Singh, who earlier ran a chemist shop at Morinda, on March 29 in her office at Kharar. Relatives of the victim suspected the hand of the drug mafia in the killing. The government formed a SIT, headed by IGP, Ropar Range, V Neeraja, and comprising Mohali SSP HS Bhullar, Ropar SSP Swapan Sharma, Ropar Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Jagwinder Singh Grewal and Assistant Drug Controller (under the Punjab Health Department) Sanjeev Garg.
A SIT member said on condition of anonymity that a scrutiny of the call details of Balwinder and Neha revealed that they did not contact each other on the phone. However, it would be premature to draw any conclusion in this regard as the details of calls made through WhatsApp cannot be traced if the callers delete it from their phone set. Moreover, Balwinder’s phone was yet to be opened as it was locked by a password, said sources.
The sources said they were trying to verify whether she was in the habit of keeping the numbers of chemists on her phone or whether it was an isolated case. They said they needed to probe why the phone number of a person who had lost his business 10 years ago due to action taken by her was saved by her.
Another SIT member said to ascertain Balwinder’s motive behind killing Neha, the investigating agencies had been asked to find the locations of Balwinder and Neha during the past at least one year. Besides, the SIT has asked for records pertaining to the arms licence issued to the killer and the drug licences and challans issued by Neha during the past two years.
The sources said after his licence to run the chemist shop was cancelled in 2009, Balwinder tried to get it twice, but his case was rejected both times.
The SIT has also learnt that another chemist in Kurali, a relative of Balwinder, was issued a challan in 2017-18 by Neha.
ASSAILANT BALWINDER SINGH MAY HAVE MISSED TARGETING HER THRICE
While it took Balwinder Singh about a minute and a half to enter the office complex, gun down Neha Shoree and exit the building on March 29, he may have missed targeting her on three previous occasions over the past few days.
Police sources said Balwinder had visited the zonal licensing authority office complex in Kharar on March 20, 26 and 27, but on all three days, Neha was not present in her office at that particular time. On all three days, he visited the office between 10 am and noon.
On the day of the murder, CCTV footage of the office complex shows that Neha was killed between 11.37 am and 11.39 am.
The police said a scrutiny of the footage revealed that Balwinder had spent 13 seconds in Neha’s room, during which he had pulled out a .32 bore revolver from his bag, fired four shots, of which two missed the target, and kept the weapon inside the bag. Balwinder did not enter the office from the main gate, but left from it after committing the crime. According to the mobile location, Balwinder was active in Kharar during the past two months.
According to the footage made available by sources a week after the incident, Balwinder can been seen striding purposefully along an empty corridor with a bag slung over his shoulder and then entering Neha’s room unchecked.
In the meantime, Neha’s driver approaches the room and pushes open the door, but instead of entering the room, immediately runs off in the opposite direction. Balwinder then emerges from the room and makes his way down the corridor. His gun is not visible. Thereafter, a few of Neha’s colleagues, including women, rush towards Neha’s room.
The police said according to the driver’s deposition, he had gone to fetch a cushion from Neha’s car as asked by her. When he opened the door, he said the room was full of smoke and a man was standing there holding a handgun.
Another CCTV clipping from the office entrance shows Balwinder running towards the parking lot, but no one at that point is seen either chasing him or trying to stop him. It was only later in the parking lot that he was cornered following which he shot himself.
Even after a week of the sensational murder of Neha, zonal licensing authority, at her office in Kharar, the police are yet to clear certain doubts, being raised by thevictim’s family in the case.