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Amritsar on edge amid protest as little headway in Hindu leader’s murder

Amritsar police commissioner SS Srivastava said the probe is at an initial stage. “We cannot rule out the involvement of anyone, including radicals, at this stage.”

punjab Updated: Oct 31, 2017 21:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Amritsar news,Hindu activists,Hindus protest
Hundreds of Hindu activists gathered in Amritsar on Tuesday morning to protest against the killing of right-wing activist, Vipan Sharma.(Sameer Sehgal /HT)

A day after the sensational killing of right-wing activist Vipan Sharma, Amritsar police was yet to make any arrests in the case despite claiming “vital clues” on Tuesday.

The police suspect the involvement of two local gangsters. “One of them belongs to Sultanwind area in Amritsar and is wanted in several criminal cases. The other one is from Chabal village in Tarn Taran. We are looking for them,” a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity. The pictures of one of them even went viral on social media in connection with the case.

Amritsar police commissioner SS Srivastava said the probe is at an initial stage. “We cannot rule out the involvement of anyone, including radicals, at this stage,” he said. Police also carried out raids at two places in Katra Baghian, rounding up two persons who were let off after questioning.

“It seems to be a case of personal enmity due to his business operations, but we are also investigating the other possible theories,” said additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP)-1, Charanjit Singh. Sharma was into cable TV operations.

‘No link with others’

Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh too ruled out any link between Monday’s incident and previous killings of right-wing leaders in other parts of the state. “Prima facie there is no connection. The previous ones had different modus operandi, but the killer was caught on camera this time,” he told HT. The CM said he has asked the director general of police to beef up security of all the right and left wing leaders.

In Delhi, a person belonging to a pro-Khalistan outfit was nabbed outside the international airport and handed over to Punjab police, but they denied any connection with the killing of Sharma, who was district president of an outfit named Hindu Sangharsh Sena.

Meanwhile, the Amritsar police had a field day as hundreds of activists gathered on Tuesday to protest against the daylight murder, as the holy city turned into a cantonment with security beefed up following the call for Punjab bandh by Hindu outfits. DGP, law and order, HS Dhillon also reached the city that had hundreds of cops on the streets throughout the day.

Cremation delayed

High drama was witnessed after the autopsy as Sharma’s kin refused to cremate the body demanding Rs 5 lakh compensation and jobs to both his children. Protestors blocked Bhandhari Bridge with the body inside a vehicle of Durgiana Temple for around three hours. The situation was eventually controlled after intervention of Srivastava, who came tot the spot around 5pm; and the body was finally cremated around 6pm after he assured to meet the demands.

Sources said the son of the deceased may get a job with the police on the basis of his qualification and the daughter will be offered a clerical job in a government department.

Train vandalised, shops closed

The protesters had sought a meeting with minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and other MLAs in the district but Sidhu was out of the city. Agitated after no Congress leader appeared at the spot, they blocked the rail traffic for an hour and pelted the Jammu-Tawi Express with stones, and manhandled the driver, Ashok Kumar. Windowpanes of some coaches too were damaged. The train was scheduled to depart from Amritsar at 4.20 pm but was delayed as the engine had to be changed.

Since morning, partial bandh was witnessed in the city as shops in key areas including Hall Bazaar and Ram Bagh remained closed till late evening. In other areas, shops opened after two hours of protest. Shops inside some shopping malls too were closed after protesters entered the premises.

Tose leading the protest were Sudhir Suri, chairman of Shiv Sena Punjab, and Arun Kumar, all-India president of the Hindu Sangharsh Sena. They raised anti-Khalistan slogans at Bharat Nagar, where the murder took place, and accused “Sikh radicals”. They also burnt an effigy of slain Sikh militant preacher Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

Suri accused the police of inaction. “Police should have given security to Vipan, who was under threat from Sikh outfits.”

First Published: Oct 31, 2017 21:42 IST