Unidentified gunmen opened fire at Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale’s cavalcade near Ludhiana on Tuesday, leaving his follower dead. The 36-year-old preacher, however, escaped with minor injuries in a well-planned bid to eliminate him.
Police said Dhadrianwale and his aides were heading to attend a congregation at Isewal village in three cars when they were attacked.
Around 8 pm, the cavalcade slowed down at a ‘chabeel’ on Burewal road, said police. Suddenly, a group of about 10-12 armed assailants appeared at the scene and started firing indiscriminately, raising pro- Khalistan slogans.
Dhadrianwale’s aide Bhupinder Singh, who had occupied the front passenger of the Toyota Land Cruiser Prada, suffered a bullet injury. “Dhadrianwale, who normally occupied the front seat, was on the rear seat. As a result, he had a miraculous escape. As soon as the firing started, the preacher’s driver accelerated and managed to take away the vehicle from the spot,” said a police official.
The attackers chased Dhadrianwale’s Prada in three SUVs for more than 4 km. Dhadrianwale and his driver, however, managed to hide in a private school building from where they called police.
Bhupinder Singh Dhakki Sahibwale who suffered a gunshot wound to the head, was rushed to the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital. He, however, could not be saved. Dhakki’s supporters raised slogans at the hospital, demanding strict action against the attackers. Heavy police force was deployed in the area to prevent any untoward incident. Later, Dhadrianwale, in his statement, said it was a pre-planned attack. “The attackers had set up a fake ‘chabeel’ and the moment we slowed down, around a dozen armed assailants opened fire at us,” he said.
Ludhiana police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh said a case of murder has been registered. “We are probing all angles,” he added.
Dhadrianwale had been engaged in a major spat with Harnam Singh Dhumma, head of the Damdami Taksal at Amritsar, on social media.
Dhadrianwale appeals for peace in video:
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader HS Phoolka was among the first people to react, on Twitter as he posted: “Sant Dhadrianwale is highly respected & loved by Sikh panth. assassination attempt on him is a cowardly act.”
Sant Dhadrianwale is highly respected & loved by Sikh panth. assassination attempt on him is a cowardly act. pic.twitter.com/rfTVfR9XLN— H S Phoolka (@hsphoolka) May 17, 2016