Pastor’s murder: Group accused of 2016 killing of RSS leader prime suspect
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Pastor’s murder: Group accused of 2016 killing of RSS leader prime suspect

Three cases of murders of religious leaders last year are now under CBI investigation; police claim the use of .32 bore pistol, two bike-borne men and all murders on Saturday pointers to a common link

punjab Updated: Jul 18, 2017 09:26 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Pastor murder,Ludhiana killing
Protesters marching towards the Jalandhar Bypass against the killing of a pastor outside a church at Salem Tabri, in Ludhiana.(HT File)

A pattern similar to last year’s unsolved high-profile killings in the state is emerging after initial police investigation into the killing of pastor of Sunil Masih, 50, in Ludhiana on Saturday.

Police are also firming up the theory that the same gang that murdered RSS state vice-president Brigadier Jagdish Gagneja (retd) in August 2016 is involved.

The same gang is also suspected to be behind the murder of Namdhari sect head’s mother Chand Kaur in April 2016, and the murders of two Dera Sacha Sauda followers in Khanna and Shiv Sena leader Durga Prasad Gupta. All these three cases are now under CBI investigation after Punjab Police could not make any headway and cited the presence of ‘a foreign hand’ behind the systematic killings.

“The modus operandi of the crime in all these cases is similar. Like in other cases, he was also killed point blank at very close range by the two bike-borne assailants,” said a senior police officer.

The common thread

Police claim that the use of .32 bore pistol in the killings, involvement of two bike-borne men in every crime and the fact that each murder was carried out on a ‘Saturday’, with the intent to create communal tension were strong markers pointing towards the involvement of the same gang.

CBI team in Ludhiana

Sources said a special team of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that is dealing with these cases of organised killings was also apprised of the details of pastor’s killing. This team led by a DSP is sitting in Jalandhar since September 2016, when the probe of the RSS leader’s killing was handed over to the CBI.

A CBI team will also visit Ludhiana on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the SIT that was formed on Sunday analysed the CCTV footages of the pastor’s killing.

First Published: Jul 17, 2017 22:32 IST