Mon, Nov 19, 2012 - Page 5 News List

India’s ‘Baron of Booze’ killed by brother in shootout

DUELLING BROTHERS:The shooting occurred while the two brother were discussing how to divide the family’s wealth after their father’s death

AFP, NEW DELHI

A powerful Indian liquor baron and his brother died in a shootout on Saturday on the outskirts of New Delhi, police said, as a feud over family property turned fatal.

Ponty Chadha, dubbed the “Baron of Booze” by the media, and his younger brother, Harvinder, were discussing how to divide the family’s assets a year after the death of their tycoon father when the shooting took place, a family lawyer said.

“The two brothers are dead and we are looking into the circumstances,” a police official told reporters, asking not to be identified.

The exact circumstances of the shooting at the luxury family farmhouse were unclear, but local media quoted police as saying Harvinder shot Ponty first, leading to an exchange of fire in which Ponty’s guard was injured and Ponty and Harvinder both died.

“There was a lot of ill-will between the two brothers,” family lawyer Gaurang Kanth told India’s CNN-IBN television network. “It is a shock for everybody — nobody expected it to escalate to this level.”

Ponty, who was in his mid-50s, had estimated the value of his liquor business alone at 60 billion rupees (US$1.1 billion).

His other interests stretched from real estate to malls, sugar mills and film production.

“There were a lot of problems regarding the property settlement” following the death of their father, Kulwant Singh Chadha, who founded the Chadha Group business, said Kanth, adding Ponty had wanted to retain control of the family empire.

The whereabouts of the third brother, Rajinder, were not immediately known.

Ponty, whose formal name was Gurdeep Singh Chadha, ruled the liquor business in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh after being given the sole distribution license.

He also had big liquor interests in other northern states.

A steady stream of friends and relatives flocked to the high-fenced property where the shooting took place as police swarmed the residence.

Television footage showed empty cartridges on the ground outside.

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