Ponty Chadha's mafia-style wars: Paid for by aam janta

"Ponty came to farm No 42 with about 30-40 men in Land Cruisers, Mercedes and a Tata 407 tempo" to take possession of the farmhouse, reads the Times of India account of the battle royale.

“Investigators have also recovered around 20 cartridges, two licensed pistols and sophisticated AK-47 rifle from the spot," confirms Joint Commissioner of Police (Southern Range) Vivek Gogia.

"Around 40 shots from three different weapons, all of which were licensed, were fired. The weapons ranged from .9mm pistols and .32 bore pistols to an AK 47," another officer told the Hindustan Times.

The Chadha shootout in Chattarpur reads like a scene from The Godfather -- except this one is subsidised by hard-earned taxpayer money.

Why were AK-47s used in the shootout when they are only given to personal security officers from the police? PTI

While others decipher motives, conspiracies and other crime mysteries, an IBN-Live article raises the important questions: "Why would the PSOs attached to the brothers be willing to kill, almost like hired shooters? Whose weapon fired the bullets that were lodged inside Ponty's and Hardeep's bodies? Is it valid to term the shootout an act of self-defence with such a high number of shots being fired?"

And here's one more: Why were members of the Punjab police force part of this shoot-to-kill personal posse?

Not content with turning state security personnel into their personal militas, our politicians are now extending the favour -- paid for by our taxes -- to their buddies. The Chadhas were highly well-connected liquor barons, best known for their close connections with leaders like Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. And those police personnel toting AK-47s were just one of the many rewards of a far-too-cosy relationship. There's no public interest being served in protecting either Chadha brother, especially since much of this "protection" entails acting like their personal thugs as these men conduct their private feuds. The Punjab policemen assigned to Ponty, for instance, worked with his private guards to forcibly evict Hardeep's staff from the farmhouse.

The police reports are already trying to rewrite the narrative in news accounts published today. One official now insists that the shootout only involved the private guards, "adding the PSOs given to the brothers by Punjab Police were not involved in the firing."

A Hindu article includes more whitewashing:

The police are questioning three Punjab Police personnel and two personal security officers of Hardeep who were following him in another vehicle while on his way back from Noida to the farmhouse, after being told that his brother’s associates had allegedly driven his employees out of the farmhouse. The five claimed that the entire action was over by the time they reached there.

And this when a police official already confessed to the Indian Express, “It looks like PSOs from the Punjab Police also fired. Their weapons are with us."

Those weapons likely include AK-47s which -- according to a fellow journalist -- miraculously no longer appear on the police FIRs. Of course not. Private guards cannot own an AK-47, which are only issued to government personnel. Those missing AK-47s tell a tale far more incriminating than any autopsy of Ponty Chadha.

There is no good reason as to why the Chadhas would require policemen wielding assault weapons as part of their security detail. Then again, there is no good reason why their political buddies need them either. Samajwadi Party honcho Azam Khan recently threw a hissy fit  demanding four bodyguards armed with AK-47s. His reasoning: If IAS and IPS officers enjoy that privilege, why not a cabinet minister like him? The answer, as the reporter makes it clear in the TV news report, is simple: "Mantriji ki shaan."

Every bigwig now wants his own personal army as a marker of his status, and that includes not just politicians, but also industrialists and Bollywood celebrities. While private bodyguards are nice, high level government security is the ultimate marker of having arrived -- like Anil Ambani, Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan et al. The Chadhas were clearly playing in the big leagues, though it is as yet unclear if it was of the X, Y, or Z-plus kind.

The price of their privilege, however, is being paid by the rest of us.

I don't care why Hardeep shot Ponty. What I really want to know is how many other Chadhas are roaming our streets like gun-toting warlords. I really wouldn't want to cut one of them off in traffic. Would you?

Updated Date: Nov 19, 2012 15:49 PM

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