Three brothers were shot dead while the fourth was injured and was struggling for life in a hospital after two groups exchanged fire in a clash over a piece of panchayati land in Karia Pehalwan village, near here.
While Kulbir Singh, 45, and Gurmit Singh, 32, died on the spot, Karnail Singh (40) died on way to civil hospital here.
They were among the people who had come with the members of the panchayat.
Three people from the opposite party were also injured and were hospitalised.
The police have registered a case against twelve people and three of them have been arrested.
According to information, a dispute had been going on over a piece of 4.6 kanal panchayti land at Karia Pehalwan village, which had been under the possession of the family of one Gurbachan Singh for the last many years.
However, the village panchayat had filed a case, claiming ownership of the land, in the court and had won the case.
The panchayat had also got court orders to take possession of the land.
But, as Gurbachan Singh was allegedly backed by a political leader, the panchayat failed to take the possession of the land despite orders of the court as well of the local district magistrate.
Today, members of the panchayat, besides some residents, reached the land in question to take possession along with some mediapersons. But, Gurbhacan Singh opposed it and, after exchange of hot words, guns were taken out and gunshots were exchanged.
In the exchange of fire, Karnail Singh, Kulbir Singh and Gurmeet Singh, the three brothers, aged between 40 and 45 years, were killed and their brother Darshan Singh was admitted to a hospital with serious injuries. Opponents Jarmal Singh and his brother Ranjit Singh sustained injuries and were referred to Faridkot medical college from the local civil hospital.
The deceased and the accused were also related to each other.
Later on, when Ferozepur SSP Gurpreet Singh Toor, along with policemen, reached the spot, angry villagers damaged the SSP’s vehicle and broke down its window panes.
The villagers said had the administration swung into action in time, instead of bowing to political pressure and not taking any action in the case, three precious lives could have been saved.
Meanwhile, it was also learnt that last week too, a futile bid was made to take possession of the land.
When contacted, Toor rebuffed the charge of any political pressure in the case and said that as and when the local civil authorities had demanded police help, it was facilitated to them. The three accused, who were undergoing treatment at at Guru Gobind Singh medical college and hospital, have been provided police protection. The police hunt was on to nab the fleeing accused, said the SSP.