Amritsar turns khaki: Slain Hindu leader’s family refuses to cremate body, demands govt job
Hundreds of Hindu activists gathered on Tuesday morning to protest against the killing of right-wing activist, Vipan Sharma, 45, even as Amritsar virtually turned into a cantonment as the police beefed up security following the call for Punjab bandh by several Hindu outfits on a day when the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is observing the death anniversary of Beant Singh, an assassin of former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Sharma, district president of Hindu Sangharsh Sena who used to operate a cable TV business, was shot seven times by two unidentified turbaned men at Bharat Nagar around 2 pm. The Amritsar police have beefed up security in the district following a call for Punjab bandh by Shiv Sena Hindustan and Hindu Sangarsh Committee.
DGP, law and order, HS Dhillon, is learnt to be camping in the holy city, which virtually turned into a police cantonment with hundreds of cops on the roads.
Several right wing leaders, including Sudhir Suri, chairman of Shiv Sena Punjab and Arun Kumar, All India President of Hindu Sangarsh Sena, raised anti-Khalistan slogans at Bharat Nagar area where the roads were choked. The procession marched towards Hall gate where other Hindu outfits will join the protest around 11:30 am.
Sudhir Suri accused the police of inaction against Sikh terror outfits. “We are losing our Hindu leaders as the Sikh terror groups are striking fearlessly. The police should have given security to Vipan who perceived a threat from Sikh outfits,” Suri alleged. Suri himself has sought police security.
Shops were closed in Hall Bazar and Ram Bagh areas though it was work as usual at several other markets in the city. Sharma, 45, was shot dead in broad daylight in Amritsar on Monday, 13 days after the killing of a local leader of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) in Ludhiana.
This is the fifth such murder of a Hindu outfit leader, and the ninth overall of any religious or religio-political leader, in the last two years in Punjab. It is also the third such killing under Captain Amarinder Singh’s government that came to power in March.
The Punjab police and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are clueless about the people behind these killings, and the probe into RSS leader Ravinder Gosain’s killing on October 17 has been handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). There have been speculations about the involvement of Sikh separatists in the previous cases, but the police are yet to share any leads.
Police sources said they are investigating several angles in the Sharma murder. “We can’t rule out the possibility of personal enmity due to his business operations,” said additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP)-1, Charanjit Singh.
In the CCTV footage, Sharma is seen talking to several people on the street before getting ready to ride pillion on a bike. He had gone to the locality to meet his friend Ramesh Kumar Monu, state president of the outfit who managed to escape as only Sharma was targeted. Sources said the police are finding out whether Monu was the target, and why he was spared despite being state chief of the same outfit.
The two killers, shows the footage, abused Sharma before firing at him. Sharma fell to the ground when one of the two masked men — whose face cover then came off — shot him on his upper body. Sharma was rushed to a local hospital where he was declared brought dead.
Police believe two other turbaned men accompanied the killers and took them away on bikes. They were seen in the footage from another camera near the spot, sources said. Senior officers, including commissioner SS Shrivastva, visited the spot. The police have registered a case under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code at the Sadar police station.
Meanwhile, state BJP chief and Union minister Vijay Sampla condemned the incident. “Apart from the killing of an Akali sarpanch Manpreet Kaur’s husband Harkirat Singh in Sangrur, this killing the same day paints the picture of the deteriorating law and order in Punjab,” said Sampla. Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal also condemned the killing.
Family refuses to cremate body
The family has refused to cremate the body of Vipan Sharma.
Further, Hindu outfits blocked Bhandari bridge on Tuesday, demanding compensation and a government job for a family member. Commuters were harassed as they had to walk to the railway station and/or bus stand while carrying heavy luggage.