DELHI – In a shocking case from Delhi, a Sikh boy was killed for objecting to smoking in public. The victim, Gurpreet Singh, 21, died on Wednesday after battling for life for three days.
The accused, identified as Rohit Krishna Mahanta, was arrested on Wednesday evening from the Apollo Hospital.
Initially, the police said that they had added section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder with a maximum term of life imprisonment) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to the FIR but after conducting an investigation, the police registered a case of murder against the accused.
The accused, Mahanta, is a practising lawyer under the standing counsel of the Assam government.
‘He threatened to kill us’
Gurpreet and Maninder Singh, aged 21 and 22 respectively, had gone near AIIMS for filming a documentary on pavement dwellers in the national capital on Saturday, their families claimed.
“We were working on our ‘Life of people on footpath in Delhi’ after which we stopped to eat something. This man was drunk and started blowing cigarette smoke in our face. We objected as we are Sikhs and smoking is against our religious beliefs,” said Maninder.
“He got into an argument and said that if we were in Assam, he would kill us and no one would get to know,” he added. Police later confirmed that the accused was drunk.
Gurpreet’s family said that the duo decided to leave when the accused threatened to kill them.
As the duo got on their bike and left, the accused allegedly followed them and hit them from behind. The speed of the car was such that it also hit an auto-rickshaw and a cab that were in front of the bike.
All the injured were immediately rushed to AIIMS Trauma Centre where Gurpreet battled for life for two days but succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday.
Maninder, though out of danger, is undergoing treatment. Based on the cab driver’s statement on Monday, the police registered a case under Section 279 (rash driving) and 337 (Causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) against the driver.
Mahanto, who was caught right after the incident, was taken to AIIMS where his medical examination was conducted and he was found to have consumed alcohol beyond permissible limits after which Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act was also added to the FIR.
Murder charges added
On Wednesday — after the deceased’s family demanded a probe — the police recorded Maninder’s statement.
“In his statement, Maninder alleged that Rohit had a heated exchange with them just before the incident and had threatened them of dire consequences,” said Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Chinmoy Biswal.
This led the police to add Section 302 (punishment for murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) against the accused.
According to the police, Mahanto, a resident of Defence Colony, is a lawyer under the Standing Counsel of Assam government and his father Anil Kumar is a doctor.
Gurpreet and Maninder had come from Bhatinda to Delhi in 2016 for a year-long course at Delhi School of Photography, which was due to end in October.
Mahanta’s father is a professor at one of the IITs
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