A follower of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect was shot dead in a Punjab village on Tuesday, police said. Tension was reported in the area and other towns of the state following the murder.
According to police, Lilly Kumar, who was in his late thirties, was shot dead near the sect's office in Alampur Mandra village in Punjab's Mansa district, around 200 km from Chandigarh.
"Lilly Kumar, a follower of Dera Sacha Sauda, was shot dead by some unknown person when he was returning from the local court after attending a hearing in some case," Manminder Singh, the district police chief, told IANS on Tuesday.
Singh said it is not clear whether some radical religious group was behind the crime, but the police have launched investigations and registered a case against an unknown assailant.
"Seeing the sensitivity of the case, we have formed a special team to nab the accused at the earliest," he added.
According to police sources, Kumar had some disputes in the past with some other religious groups in his village. In September 2007, his house in the village was set on fire and the case was still pending in the court.
However, tension gripped the area and other towns of Punjab following the murder.
A Dera Sacha Sauda spokesperson said: "Hundreds of our followers have gathered outside the hospital, where the dead body was kept, to condemn this incident. We will certainly fight for justice and demand Punjab police arrest the culprits."
The sect, led by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, has thousands of followers in Punjab, and is headquartered at Sirsa town in Haryana, some 280 km from Chandigarh.