Manuke village sarpanch Beant Singh, 28, owing allegiance to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), was shot dead by two assailants at his village under the Nihal Singh Wala police station here late Wednesday night.
Police said the victim had links with gangsters and was out on bail after spending nearly two years in jail in connection with a murder case.
Beant was going to market with a foe-turned-friend, Kuldeep Singh Keepa, when the assailants opened fire at him from a terrace, leaving him dead on the spot. Police said that a 12-bore rifle was used in the crime and bullets pierced through his neck and back. Sources said Keepa had tricked Beant to accompany him and the attack was planned.
On the statement of victim’s mother Surinder Pal Kaur, the police have booked three people, including Keepa, for murder. The other two have been identified as Rajinder Kumar alias Goga of Manuke village and Raman Kumar of Badhni Kalan village.
They have been booked under Sections 302 (murder), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code and 25-27-54-59 of the Arms Act. The body was sent to the Nihal Singh Wala civil hospital for the post-mortem.
Surinder in her complaint said she was following her son when the incident took place and was a witness to the crime. “Some villagers were jealous of my son as he had become a sarpanch at a young age, so they killed him,” she said.
Villagers said that Beant, who was a close aide of senior SAD leader Tota Singh, had a rivalry with Keepa and Rajinder. However, a couple of days ago Beant patched up with Keepa. “Keepa took Beant along on the pretext of going to market for mobile recharge. On the way, Rajinder and Raman fired at Beant from a terrace,” villagers said on condition of anonymity.
Victim had criminal record
Police said Beant had links with gangsters and was facing at least three cases, including those of murder and attempt to murder. He had been acquitted in two other cases and was a proclaimed offender in an attempt-to-murder case registered in 2009 at Mehna police station.
The police had also rounded him up in connection with SAD leader Malkiat Singh Keetu murder case, but failed to establish his involvement.
Sources said police have also rounded up Keepa for questioning, but there was no official confirmation to that.
Moga senior superintendent of police (SSP) Sandeep Goel said the case has nearly been cracked. “We can’t reveal anything yet. Let the investigations complete, so that we can share information,” he said.
Murders in Moga over the months
January 27, 2017 Gangster Kuldeep Singh Keepa (27) shot dead by three unidentified assailants in Butter village. Keepa, who was said to be the close aide of gangster Davinder Bambiha ‘Sharp Shooter’, who was killed in a police encounter in Rampura on September 8 last year, was facing seven cases pertaining to murder and attempt to murder.
November 4, 2016 A retired army man, Beant Singh, beaten to death by a liquor contractor and his men at Thathi Bhai village in Smalsar here. The victim had paid with his life for objecting to liquor being sold at more than the retail price.
September 26, 2016 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) worker Jagroop Singh shot dead allegedly by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Jagseer Singh at Bhinder Kalan village in Dharamkot over a land dispute.
July 4, 2016 A man, Amninder Singh, shot dead by a sarpanch and his private security guards after he objected to celebratory firing at a marriage function in Butter Kalan village. The police booked sarpanch Jaswinder Singh and his gunmen Sharan Singh alias Sharna and Honey Singh alias Bijju for the murder.