Punjab Right Wing Leader Sudhir Suri Shot Dead: What Police Chief Said On Probe

Sudhir Suri was mainly known for his aggressive, allegedly communal video messages on social media

Punjab Right Wing Leader Sudhir Suri Shot Dead: What Police Chief Said On Probe

Shiv Sena Taksali chief Sudhir Suri just before he was shot dead in Amritsar.

Amritsar/Chandigarh:

A local shopkeeper was the one who shot Sudhir Suri, one of Punjab's most prominent Hindu right wing leaders, in Amritsar today when he was on a sit-in protest outside a temple over alleged sacrilege of Hindu idols and images.

State police chief Gaurav Yadav said he died at the hospital, due to the gunshot injuries. "He was on a dharna over a dispute of Gopal Mandir management. The attacker has a garment shop there. He fired bullets from his licensed .32-bore revolver. Some of the bullets hit [Sudhir Suri] and he was taken to hospital immediately," DGP Yadav said.

"The accused, Sandeep Singh Sunny, was taken into custody from the spot itself. His interrogation is on. We have registered a case under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code," he added, but did not share more specifics about the direction of the probe.

Leader of a local outfit that uses the name Shiv Sena Taksali, Sudhir Suri was mainly known for his aggressive — often abusive and allegedly communal — video messages on social media targeting some Sikh outfits and Khalistan supporters in particular. Police have not drawn a connection, though unconfirmed theories floated on social media.

"We are trying to find out how many security personnel were present with Sudhir Suri at the point of shooting," said DGP Yadav.

Mr Suri had police protection due to threats from gangsters and Khalistani extremists, and there were local cops deployed at the spot too. But the attacker simply walked into a house right opposite where Mr Suri was blocking the road, and opened fire. The attacker had come with some others in a car but they managed to escape, sources said.

Some of Mr Suri's supporters held a brief protest on a highway in Amritsar, blaming the state government for the "security breach".

DGP Yadav did acknowledge the sensitivity as he said, "The situation in Amritsar is fully under control," and added, "We will get to the bottom of it. Punjab has always set an example of communal harmony."

The police commissioner of Amritsar appealed to the people to keep calm and not give in to any communal calls.

The murder comes just months after the killing, in May, of another prominent person with police security — singer Sidhu Moosewala — raising questions on Bhagwant Mann's Aam Aadmi Party government that was formed in March.

Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma reacted: "The law and order situation has completely broken down in the state."

State Congress chief Amarinder Singh 'Raja' Warring also said: "Law and order is deteriorating and going from bad to worse. Congress condemns murderous attack on Shiv Sena leader in Amritsar. Political differences apart, violence is unacceptable. Culprits must be brought to book."

Sudhir Suri's murder also brings back memories of a series of killings of right-wing or religious leaders, most of them from Hinduva outfits, in 2016 and 2017, when the Akali Dal-BJP and the Congress were in power at different times.

In Punjab, a number of Hindutva outfits use the name 'Shiv Sena', but don't formally have anything to do with the Maharashtra-based party founded by Bal Thackeray. State police have been giving security cover to many of these leaders as there's a history of attacks on them.

(With inputs from ANI)

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