Three people were killed and six injured in firing between two groups of Nihangs over the control of a gurdwara at Mallan village in Muktsar district on Wednesday.
The two groups exchanged at least 70 gunshots and torched two vehicles during the clash that lasted for around 45 minutes at Gurdwara Sri Ramsar Sahib. Four policemen present at the spot failed to avert the incident.
The deceased have been identified as Naib Singh, 65, his grandson Ranjit Singh, 27, and Amritpal Singh, 37, all belonging to the Shiromani Panth Akali Baba Budha Dal faction headed by Balbir Singh.
The clash took place when Makhan Singh, belonging to the rival faction headed by Joginder Singh, reached the gurdwara along with his supporters to wrest its control on Wednesday morning.
Makhan Singh, who had been overseeing the gurdwara affairs for the past several years, was allegedly threatened and thrown out of the premises by Naib Singh and his aides the previous night. The gurdwara owns six acres of land in Mallan and three acres in Rammania village.
As Makhan Singh’s group wielding arms and sharp-edged weapons attacked the rival group around 10am, Naib Singh and his men tried to take shelter inside the gurdwara premises, but three of them were killed, while six others received multiple bullet injuries.
Muktsar senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gurpreet Singh Gill said a cop present at the spot managed to lock the main gate, but the attackers scaled the boundary wall and entered the gurdwara premises.
By the time additional police force reached the gurdwara, the assailants managed to flee. Cops, however, were able to recover weapons used in the crime.
“We are probing the matter. There is no previous record of any conflict between the two factions over the control of the gurdwara. We are still verifying the facts,” said Gill. No case had been registered till the filing of this report.