Police in northwestern Pakistan on Monday arrested six people accused of gunning down a Sikh political figure, attributing the killing to rivalry rather than a Taliban attack, as claimed by the militants.
Soran Singh, a prominent leader of Pakistan’s Sikh religious minority and a lawmaker from cricket legend Imran Khan’s opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, was gunned down outside his home in the town of Buner on Friday.
On Saturday, the Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for the assassination of Singh. However, Singh’s miffed Hindu rival Baldev Kumar, a Swat district councilor and minority leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was arrested by the law enforcement agencies on Sunday. They had promised to clear the air in a press conference on Monday.
Kumar had hired contract killers to kill Singh, said police. Deputy inspector general, Malakand division, Azad Khan said: “During initial investigations, Baldev and other people acknowledged their involvement in the murder of Singh.” Kumar hired contract killers by promising them 1 million Pak rupees, it is alleged. He was miffed after being overlooked for the ticket which was given to Singh, who was comparatively new entrant to the PTI, said DIG Khan at a press conference.
“Baldev Kumar planned Singh’s killing with help of his friend Muhammad Alam, former nazim from Shangla. Alam fixed his killing plan with Saeed Jan and promised (Pak) Rs 1 million for killing and (Pak) Rs 2 lakh were paid in advance,” he said.
“Saeed Jan hired Mukhtar and Behroz Khan and sent them to Buner’s Pir Baba for targeting him. Mukhtar and Behroz attacked Soran Singh on last Friday at his doorstep in the Pir Baba area of Buner after returning from a funeral,” the police officer said. He said soon after the murder, police received information and arrested the attackers. During interrogation, the accused confessed to have killed Singh in lieu of money, saying they were hired by Saeed Jan.
The accused’s confession led to the arrest of Saeed Jan, who, during interrogation, said that he had planned the killing after being asked by Muhammad Alam and Kumar, the DIG said.
The police officer said that all six accused involved in the killing of Singh had been arrested. A case was registered on the complaint of Singh’s son. The last rites of Singh were held in Buner district on Saturday. A large number of people from PTI and other political parties’ activists attended the funeral. Singh’s murder was widely condemned by fellow politicians and rights activists.
Cricketer-turned-politician Khan, whose PTI party rules the restive northwestern province, had asked his government to set up an inquiry commission to probe the assassination.
Singh was a doctor, TV anchor and politician. Before joining PTI in 2011, Singh was a member of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan for nine years.