Chand Kaur, wife of former head of the Namdhari sect late Satguru Jagjit Singh, was on Monday shot dead by two unidentified bike-borne assailants at the Bhaini Sahib Gurdwara complex, 30 km from Ludhiana.
The attackers opened fire at Chand Kaur, 88, from a close range at the entrance of Satguru Partap Singh Academy --- a school run by the sect on the gurdwara premises --- around 10 am.
Chand Kaur had come to the school to attend ardas and inaugural ceremony on the first day of the new session. As she came out of the academy in an electronic golf cart, a youth approached her and bent down to touch her feet. Suddenly, he took out a pistol and fired two shots at her and fled along with his accomplice on a bike.
Kaur, who suffered bullet injuries in the head and abdomen, was rushed to the Apollo hospital where she was pronounced dead at 2 pm. The cremation will be held at Bhaini Sahib at 1 pm on Tuesday.
Chand Kaur was facing threats but had refused to take the security cover offered by police.
A murder case has been registered against unidentified assailants. A special investigation team headed by Ludhiana police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh has been formed to crack the case.
Heavy police force was deployed in Bhaini Sahib following the incident. A massive combing operation has been launched in Bhaini Sahib, Machhiwara, Khanna and nearby places to nab the assailants.
A huge number of sect followers gathered outside the gurdwara on hearing about the attack. All shops in the vicinity of the Bhaini Sahib Gurdwara were closed as a mark of mourning.
Thakur Uday Singh, the sitting head of the sect, reached Bhaini Sahib Gurdwara in the evening. Around 30 sect followers took out a march near the gurdwara demanding speedy probe into the case. The followers carried posters of Thakur Dulip Singh and alleged that he was behind the murder.
Police said the murder was well-planned and the assailants had conducted a proper recce of the area and were aware of Chand Kaur’s movements. There are CCTV cameras installed at the main entrance of the Bhaini Sahib Gurdwara. However, the assailants opened fire at her at the entrance of the academy --- around 800 m from the main gurudwara gate where there are no cameras.
Probing all angles: Ludhiana police chief
Ludhiana police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulukh said they are investigating all angles.
“A murder case has been registered against unidentified persons, but we are hopeful of getting vital leads soon,” he said.
“We have got some clues pointing towards an old rivalry. Nothing can be disclosed at this moment. Mata Chand Kaur had sufficient security, however, she didn’t take the gunman everywhere she went,” said deputy commissioner of police Dhruman Nimble.
Unidentified assailants opened fire on Mata Chand Kaur, wife of late Jagjit Singh (former head of Namdhari sect), at Bhaini Sahib gurudwara injuring her critically.
Police sources said the 88-year-old was hit by two bullets - one in the abdomen and other below her ear.
Two men shot at her inside the gurudwara and fled towards Macchiwara triggering panic in the area. Heavy police force has been deployed after the incident.
History of problems
The Namdhari sect has been in throes of a bitter succession war within the family even before Satguru Jagjit Singh’s death between the factions - one owing allegiance to Satguru Uday Singh and Mata Chand Kaur, her brother-in- law’s younger son who she had anointed as the sect head after her husband’s demise, and the other to Uday Singh’s elder brother Thakur Dalip Singh.
Raging succession war
Early 2000: Deteriorating health of former Namdhari sect head Satguru Jagjit Singh sets off a bitter war of succession between his two nephews --- Thakur Dalip Singh and latter’s younger brother Thakur Uday Singh.
2008: Satguru’s brother Maharj Bir Singh dies
2009: Both Dalip Singh and his mother Dalip Kaur banished from Bhaini Sahib
2012: Satguru Jagjit Singh passes away, Chand Kaur appoints Uday Singh as the next sect head, triggering a strong opposition from Dalip Singh-led international Namdhari community. The community coronates Dalip Singh at the parallel seat in Sirsa.