When the twenty-two year old Umeshkant Pandey took up his shift at the toll booth on the evening of the 22nd September, he had no way knowing that he would never see light of the next day. Six minutes past midnight he was gunned down by a supposedly “inebriated” man, after a brief altercation over the payment of user fee, in a what has been attributed to a fit of “road rage”. The weapon used, according to reports, was a 7.65 mm pistol.
Two days later the killer, Vijayveer Yadav, was tracked down and apprehended. In the meantime, he had made a trip to Ambala and tweaked the appearance of the vehicle he was driving to make it look different. Undoubtedly, the police acted swiftly and methodically on the CCTV footage made available to them and got to Yadav’s accomplice, Manjeet Singh. Nabbing Yadav was only a small step forward.
A few things don’t add up.
First, the Police Commissioner SS Deswal is quoted as having ascribed the crime to “drunken road rage”. When Yadav was not available for medical examination at the time of the incident, no definite conclusions can be drawn on his state of mind, unless more evidence is gathered. Or, is this an effort to throw the accused a lifeline under sections 85 or 86 of the IPC which deal with mitigation of offences committed in a state of intoxication, where mens rea cannot be proved? This is only a commonsense question without pretension of legal knowledge.
Second, did Yadav have a valid licence for the weapon? Newspaper reports have given a detailed history of the ownership of the weapon, but not its make or legality.
Third, Yadav has been described as a “jobless youth”: why or how is that significant?
So, here is the scenario: we have a drunken jobless youth who drives up to the toll plaza in a borrowed vehicle, has an altercation with the booth attendant, pulls out a pistol and shoots the attendant dead, sends a friend to do a status check, runs off to Ambala next morning and is, finally, picked up from his village near Manesar, three days later.
This is not a stray incident: it is symptomatic of a deeper malaise that infects Gurgaon.
Going back a few years, in 2006 there were a series of gruesome murders, in Gurgaon, by a gang of cab drivers who would lure late-night commuters into their taxis, strangulate them, rob them and dump their bodies in manholes or open drains. One such murder yielded as little as Rs. 20.00. The killing spree went unchecked for almost eleven months and cost 28 lives … some say 35 … the killers, too, lost count. (The cab killers of Bhora-Kalan: http://tinyurl.com/62y2b98)
In December 2007 two class 8 students of Euro International school, Gurgaon, shot dead a classmate who, apparently, had been bullying them. Reporting this BBC wrote:
Despite India’s stringent gun control laws, a number of recent feuds over property deals in suburbs such as Gurgaon have been settled with firearms.
What ails Gurgaon?
Yes there is a huge amount of money splashed around. There is also a huge disparity in lifestyles: with a very “in your face” high-end.
When real-estate developers bought land in and around Gurgaon and paid exorbitant values, largely in cash, an entire generation came to live off the fat … with no land. Little education, less occupation and all the perks of a good life. And, then, the next generation comes along, growing up with five-star schooling, watching their elders living maximum life without even breaking into a sweat. Boomtown Gurgaon has also spawned a whole new generation of yuppies who compete to set newer standards in spending and lavish lifestyles.
As Gurgaon expands and becomes more crowded, its inadequacies erupt in crime: road rage, daylight dacoities, rape, murder … symptoms of a deficient system.