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‘Warm, Bubbly’: Punjab FDA Officer Survived by Husband, 2-Year-Old

Those who knew Shoree remember her as a “warm, bubbly person” who was dedicated to her job.

Updated
India
4 min read
Those who knew Neha Shoree remember her as a warm and bubbly person who was dedicated to her job.
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Dr Neha Shoree, a “valiant” woman officer of the Punjab government’s Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) wing, was shot dead inside her office near Mohali on Friday, 29 March, by the owner of a pharmacy whose licence she had cancelled almost 10 years ago.

The 36-year-old senior health official was posted with the Drug and Food Chemical Laboratory in Kharar and dealt with licensing in Mohali and Ropar districts of Punjab, a state battling a crippling illegal drug problem.

Those close to her say that her devotion to her duty had helped uncover many cases related to the state’s drug mafia.

Neha, daughter of of 1971-war veteran Capt Kailash Kumar Shoree (retd), was shot dead in front of her six-year-old niece.

She is survived by a two-year-old daughter and husband Varun Monga, whom she married around three years ago.

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‘Killed Because She Was Honest’

Neha’s elder brother Nishant Shoree, who is working with Infosys in Chandigarh, alleged a “deep-rooted” conspiracy, beginning with the way Balwinder managed to procure an arms licence.

“The drug mafia active in Punjab is behind the murder of my sister who was an honest officer and never gave in to pressure while discharging her official duties. Balwinder Singh’s drug licence was cancelled because he was selling unauthorised drugs at his chemist shop. This means he was linked with the drug mafia. The circumstances in which my sister was murdered suggest a deep-rooted conspiracy, beginning with the way in which Balwinder managed to procure an arms licence and purchased a revolver — all this when the Model Code of Conduct was in place.”
Nishant Shoree to The Sunday Express

According to reports, Balwinder procured a license for the revolver on 11 March, just two weeks before the murder.

Bhagwant Singh, Station House Officer in Kharar City told The Print that Balwinder visited Neha’s office twice to “carry out a survey.”

‘Neha Was a Warm, Bubbly Person’

Neha, a resident of Panchkula area in Chandigarh, was a trained medical professional (MBBS).

Her family was one of the earliest settlers in Sector 6, Panchkula, neighbours recalled, as per a report in The Indian Express. At present, her family is residing on rent in the same area owing to renovations in their house, where they lived with Varun’s mother and sister Shikha.

Neha’s father Capt Shoree served in the Indian Army until 1980, following which joined the State Bank of India.

“Neha was not comfortable in her job. Sometimes I felt that she was hiding something from us. And whenever I tried to enquire, she avoided my queries. She is a martyr who sacrificed her life in the battle against the drug mafia. Why was my daughter shot dead? It proves she was performing her duty with utmost honesty and did not succumb to any pressure. I participated in the Indo-Pakistan War in 1971 for my country. And today, the drug mafia of this country snatched my daughter from me.”
Capt Shoree to The Sunday Express

The neighbours remember Neha as a “warm, bubbly person” who would wish them on her way to office every day.

A neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, said, as per the report, “We didn’t really know them intimately, but we knew that Neha used to commute for work to Kharar in a private cab every day, and she would leave her daughter with her mother in Sector 12 A. She was home only on the weekends.’’

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Balwant’s Family Denies He Possessed Weapons

Preliminary investigations revealed that the accused was running a chemist shop in Morinda and in 2009, Shoree, who was then posted as District Drugs Inspector in Ropar, had raided his store and had reportedly recovered intoxicant drugs from there, following which she had cancelled his drugs licence.

“After his shop was shut down, Balwinder started running a hospital in Morinda, but the project failed. Then he started working for a large chemist shop in Kurali. From what his family is saying, he seems to have not been able to get over the raid at his shop. He was an introvert, remained quiet, and did not speak to anyone. No one really knew that he was thinking of killing Neha. He was depressed and psychotic,” SHO Singh told The Print.

Balwinder reportedly belonged to a family of ex-servicemen and his eldest daughter is pursuing MBBS in Ukraine. While his youngest daughter is in Class XII, his son runs a video games’ parlour in Morinda, The Print reported.

“Balwinder’s family claims that they were not aware that he possessed a revolver. Since he killed himself, it is not yet known if he acted at somebody’s behest. We are investigating.”
Harcharan Singh Bhullar, Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police to The Sunday Express

Though the motive of the murder has not yet been confirmed, it is believed that the accused had been nursing a grudge against the woman health officer ever since his drug licence was cancelled.

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has directed the police to conduct a speedy probe into the officer's murder

(With inputs from PTI, The Indian Express)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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