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Akali leader ‘shoots’ cop

Chandigarh, Dec. 6: A Shiromani Akali Dal district general secretary was arrested in Amritsar today for allegedly murdering a policeman who had protested against the continued harassment and stalking of his daughter by the politician and his men.

Police said Ranjit Singh Rana, aged in his 20s, had shot assistant sub-inspector Ravinder Singh dead before many eyewitnesses this afternoon on the busy GT Road, at a spot 7km from Amritsar city.

According to the police, Ravinder had rushed to the spot after his daughter called him to complain that Rana and three of his men were stalking her.

An argument broke out, following which Rana allegedly shot Ravinder in the leg and left.

He returned a while later with more supporters and shot Ravinder dead at point-blank range while he was on the verge of being shifted to hospital, the police added.

Rana also allegedly pointed his gun at Ravinder’s daughter but fled the spot hurriedly after local people began throwing stones at him.

“Rana and one of his aides have been arrested. We are on the lookout for the other two who accompanied him,” state director-general of police Sumedh Singh Saini told reporters.

Saini said Rana had fired in the air to scare off the police team sent to arrest him. “He has killed a person from the police department and the law will take its own course,” Saini said.

A police officer said the station house officer of Chheherta police station, in whose area the shooting took place, has been sacked for failing to record a complaint filed by Ravinder’s daughter against Rana a few days ago.

“He has been found guilty of dereliction of duty as he did nothing that could have saved Ravinder’s life,” the officer added.

Former chief minister and state Congress president Amarinder Singh blamed senior Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia, accusing him of patronising criminals “who had the audacity to kill (a policeman) who objected to the eve-teasing of his daughter”.

An embarrassed ruling party has begun efforts to control the damage.

“Such an act by a district party leader cannot be tolerated. We shall scrutinise the character of all district unit leaders in the state,” a senior Akali leader said.

“The incident has not only saddened chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and party chief Sukhbir Badal, it has embarrassed everyone in the party.”

The Congress had faced similar embarrassment while ruling Punjab. In 1994, Gurkirat Singh, grandson of then chief minister Beant Singh, was accused of abducting a Frenchwoman, Katia, from a Chandigarh eatery and molesting her.

Gurkirat was acquitted for lack of evidence in 1999 after the alleged victim failed to come and testify in court. Gurkirat is now a Congress MLA.