LUCKNOW: A soft-spoken and much-admired Additional Superintendent of Police – Rajesh Sahni -- associated with prestigious Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) of UP police ended life by shooting himself with his own service revolver at ATS headquarters here on Tuesday noon. Sahni, 49, was a provincial police service officer of 1992 batch.
Posted at ATS as additional SP since July 2014, Sahni was handling a number of sensitive terror cases, including 2016 encounter in which ATS had killed terror suspect Saifullah after a gunbattle of 11 hours in old city areas, and the recent case of ISI agent Ramesh Singh Kanyal who was arrested from Pithoragarh.
“Prima facie it seems to be a case of suicide. However, we have not found any suicide note from the spot,” said ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar who had rushed to the spot along with Lucknow SSP Deepak Kumar on getting the information of suicide by the officer.
ADG (L&O) added that personnel of Forensic Science Lab (FSL) were gathering all the samples and the probe was on so as to ascertain the reason for such an extreme step taken by the officer.
Calling him one of the brightest officers of the force, ADG Kumar didn’t support the theory of any excessive work load on Sahni under the stress of which he ended his life.
While probe at different levels was on, officials associated with the matter were examining his WhatsApp chats with his close family members before going ahead with further inquiry.
Despite being on leave from May 28 to June 7, Sahni had visited office both on Monday and Tuesday.
On Monday he was called to get statement of Ramesh Singh Kanyal recorded in the court. ATS had arrested Kanyal, the suspected ISI agent, last week from Pithoragarh.
“He was not the kind to blink that easily. He was extremely competent and I did not get any indications to feel something was wrong either personally or professionally in Sahni’s life,” said inspector general ATS, Asim Arun adding that it was not clear why did he come to office on Tuesday as he was not called for any work.
As per the sources, Sahni left his home and reached ATS office at 11:30 am. He had allegedly told his wife that he had to attend Bada Mangal Bhandara (a religious affair organised to distribute prasad on Tuesdays in summer season) of an acquaintance. However, he reached ATS office directly without halting at any bhandara on the 10-km long route.
Having spent some time on the first floor of the office building with wireless operator Om Prakash Dubey, Sahni reached his cabin on the ground floor along with some files. He summoned his driver-cum-gunner Manoj to his room and asked him to bring the 9mm service pistol, Glock he had left in the vehicle.
After giving the pistol as Manoj left to the vehicle. When he came back after a while at around 12:40 pm he went to Sahni’s room and found it bolted from inside. He raised an alarm and soon senior officers including IG Asim Arun, SP ATS Jogendra Kumar and other half a dozen employees rushed to his room.
The rear door was opened up and the officers found Sahni’s body lying on the floor next to the toppled chair. Sahni, it appeared, had shot himself on the right temple with his service revolver which he never carried except the field operations.
As the body was turned over, the pistol was found under his abdomen. The case of 9mm cartridge and its bullet was recovered from the cabin. Forensic experts took the firearm into possession and also removed residues of gunpowder from Sahni’s thumb web. All the samples were sent to a local forensic laboratory.
As per DIG (law and order) Praveen Kumar, Sahni’s phone had been taken into custody. “We would examine who all spoke to him on Monday and Tuesday. People present in the office and his colleagues would also be quizzed,” said Kumar.
Around 2.15pm Sahni’s wife and daughter along with other close relatives reached the ATS office. The family was extremely shocked. While Sahni’s wife is a homemaker, his daughter was about to join postgraduate programme at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, said one of Sahni’s batchmate.
After the autopsy examination, last rites are expected to take place in Lucknow on Wednesday.