Sudhir Suri just before he was shot in Amritsar.
Sudhir Suri, a Hindutva right wing leader, was shot dead in Amritsar this afternoon. Leader of a local outfit that uses the name Shiv Sena, Mr Suri was holding protest outside a temple over a management dispute when at least five shots were fired from a pistol, allegedly by a local shopkeeper.
Mr Suri, had police protection but the attacker was successful in landing at least two shots that killed him before he could be brought to a hospital, BBC reported. The lone attacker, Sandeep Singh, was arrested immediately and the pistol seized, said the local police commissioner, who did not give more details yet.
Sources said the attacker had come to the place with three others in an SUV but they escaped.
The police chief, Arun Pal Singh, appealed to the people to keep calm and not give in to any communal calls. Tense messages and conspiracy theories were being going around among residents of the Sikh holy city, said local sources.
Earlier today, Mr Suri, who is known for his fiery and allegedly communal speeches on social media targeting radical Sikh outfits in particular, had got into an argument with some men from the temple management over alleged sacrilege of idols. He was live on Facebook barely an hour before the attack, showing some older idols “shamelessly dumped in garbage”.
At the time that he was shot, he was on a dharna on the street, sitting next to an associate who was seen firing back at the attacker from a revolver.
The killing, which comes just months after the murder, in May, of another prominent person with police security — singer Sidhu Moosewala — raising questions over law and order under Bhagwant Mann’s Aam Aadmi Party that came to power in March.
Sudhi 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 October 2017, Ludhiana RSS leader Ravinder Gosain, 60, was shot dead by two motorcycle-borne men. This was the eighth such incident in the state in about a year’s time.
In June 2017, Christian pastor Sultan Masih was shot dead, again by two motorcycle-borne men in Ludhiana.
Others killed in that series of attacks were Dera Sacha Sauda followers in Ludhiana, a leader of an organisation called ‘Hindu Takhat’, also in Ludhiana, RSS leader Brigadier Jagdish Gagneja (Retd) in Jalandhar.