Aaj meri daud khatm ho gai hai. Ab mera dar khatm ho gya hai’ (Today my run has ended. Now my fear has ended), said Suresh Singh, 71, accused in an attempt to murder case, after he was caught by police 33 years after being declared ‘fugitive’ by court.
Singh’s is a story straight from Bollywood. He was booked for firing at 60-year-old Chhote Lal, with the intention of looting Rs 1,400 from him in Dehradun’s Dalanwala locality on September 21, 1980. On the complaint of Lal’s nephew Jai Chand, an attempt to murder case was lodged against him at the Dalanwala police station. Singh was arrested in the same month and produced before a court followed by the filing of chargesheet on December 12, 1980. The court granted him bail and he was released from jail. However, after some time, he stopped appearing for the trial in the case. The court served him several summons and then declared him a fugitive in 1985.
After that in a cat-and-mouse game with the police, Singh travelled to Nepal, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, before he finally landed in the police net on September 24, 2018. He was nabbed by a two-member team of the Dalanwala police during the state police’s two-month-long campaign for nabbing wanted and fugitive criminals. However, Lal is not alive to see Singh behind the bars, while his nephew, Jai Chand, is now 64.
‘We never expected to nab him’
The task of nabbing Singh was given to a two-member police team of the Dalanwala police comprising sub-inspector Girish Chandra and constable Sohan Badoni.
“We never expected to nab him (Singh),” said Chandra, while narrating the story of Singh’s chase spanning about eight days. “But we finally nabbed him from his brother’s home in Chandroti (Dehradun) where he used to live at the time of the incident. We had some clue about him that he came to Dehradun about five years ago to sell his piece of land in Chandroti and then left the city with the money,” he said.
PAN card details helped in arrest
Chandra said during investigation, it was found that Singh had used his PAN card at the registrar’s office for the land deal. “From there, we came to know that he is living in Jwalaji town in Himachal Pradesh with his family. We reached there only to find his wife and son as somebody tipped him off about the investigation at his brother’s house in Chandroti.”
Singh and his wife used to run a shop of puja items near Jwalaji temple to earn a living. “In Himachal, his family members said that they don’t know where he is. However, we received an input that he is living in Kaithal, Haryana. We then went to Haryana, but failed to find him. Meanwhile, one of our informers told us that he is in Dehradun only. It was then we finally arrested him while acting on the tip-off,” he added.
Singh didn’t resist arrest
Recalling Singh’s reaction when he was caught by the police, Chandra said, “Singh was shocked, but calm. He didn’t expect that police would finally find him after so many years. However, he didn’t try to escape and said, “Aaj meri daud khatm ho gai hai. Ab mera dar khatm ho gya hai. Zindagi bhar mai bhagta hi raha, lekin ab aur nahi bhagna padega (Today my run has ended. Now my fear has ended. I have been running all my life, but no more),” he said.
Chandra said that he and his fellow policeman were “feeling uncomfortable while arresting a 71-year-old man.”
Hiding in Nepal
After escaping from Dehradun, Singh went into hiding for some time in Nepal, where he got married. “After getting married, he and his wife came to Jawalaji in Himachal Pradesh (HP) where they were living in a rented house. The couple then started selling puja items near the temple. They have a son,” Chandra said.
“Five years ago, after selling his piece of land in Chandroti, Dehradun, he bought a four-room house in Kaithal, Haryana, which he had rented out,” he said, adding that Singh sometimes used to visit Kaithal, where he used to pull cycle-rickshaw.
When HT spoke to Lal’s nephew Jai Chand, he said he came to know about Singh’s arrest from a relative. “Every year, the police used to come to my place to do some inquiry about the case and tell us that a manhunt is on to nab him. But now when he was finally arrested, I received no communication about it or from any other officials,” he said.
When asked whether justice has been served to Lal after Singh’s arrest, Jai Chand said: “What is the use of arresting him now. He has already lived his life all these years. Now that he is arrested, he would get meals in jails also, that too free of cost.” He said he would file a case against him in the court to seek compensation from him.
“My uncle was a celibate and worked as a caretaker of orchards of a man named Ved Prakash Sharma, who was a government officer but was living in Sri Lanka. Apart from giving my uncle a salary of Rs 60, he had also allowed him to sell the fruits of orchards in the market and keep that money for himself only.
“On that fateful day, my uncle had sold guavas for Rs 1400. Singh came to know about it and shot my uncle and looted the money,” he said, adding that he was grazing animals and rushed to the spot after hearing the gunshot. He claimed that Singh was a criminal element involved in thefts and loots in the locality and everybody was aware of his activities.