A 14-year-old girl, Shikha Kaur, was killed on the spot while her 17-year-old friend Amandeep Kaur suffered injuries after an unidentified motorcycle-borne man opened fire at them in Peedal village, 25km from district headquarters Kaithal, around 8am on Wednesday. No motive could be established, as neither did the families suspect anyone nor did any eyewitness testify, said the police.
Minutes after the incident, a group of angry residents led by Shikha’s relatives placed her body on the Kaithal-Patiala road and damaged two state-run buses, though no casualty was reported. The police now blame the agitating mob for the killer’s escape as, for four hours, cops remained caught up in pacifying the protesters and could not launch an immediate manhunt.
Amandeep, a Class-12 student, was rushed to Government Rajindra Hospital in Patiala, around 40km away, with injuries to her wrist. She was scheduled to be operated upon late in the night. Shikha’s post-mortem examination, meanwhile, said she died of a gunshot near the stomach that pierced through her body.
According to what Amandeep purportedly told her father Jagdev Singh, she and Class-8 student Shikha were walking to their school — Shantiniketan Senior Secondary Public School — when a young man, who had his face covered with a piece of cloth, appeared in front of them on a bike and opened fire. Amandeep lost consciousness after that.
“We had no enmity with anyone. I don’t know why my daughter was killed,” said Shikha’s father Nanak Singh, a bus driver, who told the police that he was on duty in Cheeka town nearby when he got a call about the incident. Amandeep’s father Jagdev, a farmer, told HT from Patiala that his family, too, did not have enmity with anyone.
While superintendent of police (SP) Kuldeep Singh rued that no villager had come forward as witness, station house officer (SHO) Kashmir Singh added that their team had rushed to the murder spot immediately but had to first control the agitating family: “In the initial crucial hours, we were not allowed to take effective measures to nab the assailant, who could have dissolved into the mob and managed to slip away.”
Even as none came forward as eyewitness, some villagers told HT on the condition on anonymity that the killer had an accomplice, a man riding besides him on another bike: “One motorbike was left behind. But in the melee later, someone took it away.”
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