Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today took a strong note of the killing of a pastor in Ludhiana and ordered the police to act against those trying to incite communal passions in the state. He asked Punjab DGP Suresh Arora that the police and intelligence in the state to co-ordinate with each other to ensure prevention of recurrence of such incidents in the future, an official spokesperson said. The DGP has been directed take all possible steps to ensure law and order is maintained in the state and the communal harmony is not disrupted.
Attempts to vitiate the state's environment would not be tolerated at any cost, Amarinder said today, warning of strict action against any police officer found guilty of dereliction of duty in this connection.
Given the sensitivity of the incident in which pastor Sultan Masih was shot dead by two unidentified motorcycle- borne assailants, the chief minister has asked the police to closely monitor the situation to prevent any fallout, the spokesman said.
He also asked the police to coordinate with local Christian leaders for support in defusing the situation resulting from the killing.
Masih was shot dead by two bike-borne assailants at Salem Tabri locality in Ludhiana late last night.
Amarinder pointed out that he had already taken up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the matter of expediting CBI probes into cases of other targeted killings, including of RSS, Hindu and Shiv Sena leaders in the past. During the meeting with Modi in Delhi last on July 11, Amarinder had requested central intelligence and investigation agencies assistance in solving these cases.
In August last year, senior RSS leader Jagdish Gagneja was shot at in Jalandhar by unidentified assailants, he died at a hospital a month later.
In April this year, Punjab RSS chief Brij Bhushan Singh Bedi had demanded that the state government ask the CBI to expedite its probe into Gagneja's killing.
Police said no headway has been made in the case so far as the CCTV cameras installed in the vicinity where Masih was shot failed to provide any clues.
"The modus operandi in the case was same as in the murder of RSS leader Jagdish Gagneja, Shiv Sena leader Khanna Durga Prasad Gupta, Hindu leader Amit Sharma at Ludhiana and two Dera Sacha Sauda followers. Mata Chand Kaur, wife of Namdhari chief was also killed in the same manner," Police Commissioner R N Dhoke said.
Dhoke has formed a Special Investigation Team under the leadership of ADCP (Investigation) Gaganjot Singh to nab the culprits.
‘No one safe in Punjab’
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) condemned the killing and lashed out at the Congress-led state government for the alleged breakdown of law and order, saying "no one was safe" in Punjab.
In a statement here, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, while expressing his condolences to the family of the deceased as well as the Christian community, said it was unfortunate that the state had descended into a "jungle raj" under the Congress rule.
"The Congress government is paying a heavy price for not acting against its own workers who started political killings immediately after the party came into power. The state witnessed sensational killings with one Akali worker being murdered in Gurdaspur after being threatened on the loudspeaker," he alleged.
"In another case, two members of an Akali family were killed in Ferozepur after being threatened on Facebook," he claimed.
Anti-social elements have started a spate of robberies and dacoities. Even gang warfare has intensified in Punjab recently, he added.
The former deputy chief minister said what was even more dangerous was the systematic manner in which "anti-national" elements had started attacks against various communities, besides resorting to desecration of religious books.
He said the killing of the pastor in Ludhiana last night, was another example of the manner in which attempts were being made to create communal tension in the state.
Christians protest against Pastor's killing in Ludhiana
A large number of people belonging to the Christian community today took out a protest against the killing of a pastor and blocked the GT road at Slem Tabri area here for over three hours, police said. The agitators staged a sit-in at the road and also refused to send Masih's body for post mortem. Traffic came to a standstill in the city and the vehicles going to Jalandhar side had to be diverted to other routes, police said.
A meeting of the Christian leaders, chaired by Manwar Masih, chairman of the Punjab State Minority Commission, was held after the protest.
It was decided that the postmortem and the funeral of the slain pastor would be held tomorrow.
Elaborate security arrangements were made in the city today to thwart any untoward incident in the area.
(With PTI inputs)