Railway Crossing Stop, Then Spray Of Bullets: How INLD Leader Was Ambushed

Nafe Singh Rathi was shot dead on the way to his home in Bahadurgarh

New Delhi:

The SUV in which Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Nafe Singh Rathi was travelling in had stopped at a railway crossing yesterday when a car stopped near the vehicle. Five men got off, and what followed was a spray of bullets at the Toyota Fortuner the INLD leader was in. Sixty-six-year-old Rathi and one of his aides were killed in the shooting, and two others were left critically injured.

Police are now looking for the i20 car the killers are suspected to have used. In CCTV footage from the area in Haryana’s Jhajjar district, the car is seen following the SUV as it approaches the railway crossing. The same camera captured the car returning, about 20 minutes later.  

Mr Rathi was sitting in the front and his nephew was driving. At the rear were INLD leader Jaikishan Dalal and a gunner deployed for the INLD leader’s security. Police sources said about 20 rounds were fired, most of them at the prime target.

NDTV visited the spot this morning, hours after the attack sent shockwaves through the state. Pieces of glass from the car’s windows were on the ground. The railway crossing in Barahi is on the way to Mr Rathi’s home in Bahadurgarh. It was shut at the time and the killers, police said, took this opportunity to complete their task. Police sources said the attack appears to have been carried out by professionals.

A case of murder has been registered against BJP leader Naresh Kaushik and several family members of Bahadurgarh municipal corporation chairperson Saroj Rathi, among others.

Senior police officer Arpit Jain said five teams led by two DSP-rank officers are investigating the killing. “We will trace the killers at the earliest,” he said.

“Not a single culprit involved in this case will be spared. Police have been instructed to arrest the accused as soon as possible and take the strictest action,” Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said yesterday.

The Opposition has slammed the state government and alleged a breakdown in Haryana’s law and order situation. INLD leader Abhay Chautala alleged that Mr Rathi wasn’t provided security even though he had “asked for it in writing” months ago. The Congress and Aam Aadmi Party also targeted the Manohar Lal Khattar government over the incident.

Mr Rathi’s name hit headlines last year in an abetment to suicide case. Former Haryana minister Mange Ram Rathi’s son had Jagdish died by suicide and a case was registered against Mr Rathi under charges of abetment. Allegations of harassment were also levelled against Mr Rathi and his nephew Sonu. The INLD leader was granted anticipatory bail by the High Court on January 24 last year.

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