Daughter brutally killed in battle against drugs in Punjab's Kharar, war veteran looks to PM Modi for justice : The Tribune India

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Daughter brutally killed in battle against drugs in Punjab's Kharar, war veteran looks to PM Modi for justice

Drug officer Neha Shoree was shot dead in her Kharar office in 2019; her father alleges mafia hand

Daughter brutally killed in battle against drugs in Punjab's Kharar, war veteran looks to PM Modi for justice

Neha Shoree



Tribune News Service

Jupinderjit Singh

Chandigarh, May 22

On the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab for electioneering, a 1971 war veteran has made a fervent appeal to him seeking “justice” for his daughter who was gunned down allegedly by the drug mafia in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.

“When you visit Punjab, do remember the sacrifice of our daughter Neha Shoree. She was shot dead inside her office in broad daylight. Her only fault: She waged a war against drugs,” Capt Kailash Shoree (retd) has urged the PM, who will be addressing rallies in Patiala, Gurdaspur and Jalandhar on May 23 and 24.

Serving as the Zonal Drug Licensing Authority in Kharar under the Punjab Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Neha (36) was murdered in cold blood on March 29, 2019. During their visits to Punjab before the last parliamentary elections, PM Modi and other top BJP leaders had denounced the drug menace and appealed to the people to launch a crusade against it.

Captain Shoree claims Neha, who was heading the drug flying squad, was killed for allegedly exposing a massive scam related to the pilferage of government supply of buprenorphine tablets to de-addiction centres. The medicines are given to addicts to wean them off drugs. “My daughter paid with her life for taking on the drug mafia. She was brave and didn’t give in to pressure,” he asserts.

Neha had allegedly detected pilferage and the illegal sale of the tablets to addicts at exorbitant rates. A probe conducted by ADGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu, who headed a special task force against drugs, had also found the mention of a whopping 5 crore tablets, worth about Rs 200 crore, in government records. It was alleged that buprenorphine had become an alternate addiction source for the Punjab youth and it was facilitated by de-addiction centres. The young drug officer was instrumental in suspending the licence of more than 40 such centres.

The assailant, Balwinder Singh, who owned a chemist shop and also worked with a de-addiction centre, had walked around 11.30 am into Neha’s first floor FDA office and pumped four bullets into her as she sat on her chair. Balwinder ran out and climbed down the stairs, but allegedly shot himself “twice” at the office gate.

Neha’s computer operator Gurmeet Singh was an eyewitness to the crime. In his statement to the police, on the basis of which the murder FIR was lodged, he alleged that he chased the fleeing assailant. As he raised the alarm, Gurmeet said, other office employees, including Store Attendant Suresh Kumar, caught Balwinder at the gate, but he “managed to shoot himself twice in the chest and head”.

The Punjab Police constituted five special investigation teams, four in the first month of the murder itself, to probe the sensational killing. The probe concluded that “Balwinder nursed a grudge against Neha for cancelling his drug licence”.

Capt Shoree called the probe an “eyewash”. “As per witness and police claims, the killer shot himself with the same revolver he used to kill Neha. But the post-mortem report says Neha’s bullet wounds were ‘round’ and Balwinder’s ‘oval’. How is it possible,” questioned the Army veteran. He also insists that it was highly improbable that the assailant could have shot himself first in the chest and then in the head.

Neha’s father suspects Balwinder was allegedly shot dead by the drug mafia so that the conspiracy behind his daughter’s murder couldn’t be unravelled. “The police took away Neha’s iPhone and laptop. These were blank when returned. Where did the data go?” he wonders.

Capt Shoree launched his own probe and found Balwinder had got an arms licence two weeks before the murder. “How did he get the licence when the poll code was in force? If he got it for real, why wasn’t the weapon deposited in a police station,” says the distraught father, seeking the PM’s help to ensure “justice” for Neha—and a sense of closure for himself and his wife.

About The Author

The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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