| Jaswinder Singh. (PTI)
Bhubaneswar, Oct. 23: Suspected Maoists today gunned down a deputy inspector-general of police in Orissa, the highest-ranking police officer to fall to Left extremists.
Jaswinder Singh, 44 , the DIG of the southwestern range, was travelling in a jeep through the jungles of extremist-dominated Raygada district, when a group of people asking for money for Kali Puja stopped his vehicle.
After an altercation, Singh was shot through his head.
In plainclothes and with his vehicle stripped of police regalia to conceal his identity, the 1990 batch IPS officer was on his way from Sunabeda town to Raygada, 120 km away, to announce the surrender of a top Maoist leader. Other than the driver, there was an armed bodyguard with Singh when they were stopped at Burja village, some 450 km southwest of Bhubaneswar.
Singh got off the jeep and asked the group to disperse. A source said his bodyguard revealed his identity to say they should not tangle with a DIG.
“A mild altercation followed. As he was getting back into the jeep, two shots rang out from behind, one of which ripped through his head,” home secretary T.K. Mishra said.
Singh was taken to a hospital in Raygada where he was declared dead. The driver and the bodyguard, who fired a round in the air, were unhurt.
A shaken chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, asked the director-general of police, Amarananda Patnaik, to fly to Raygada. “We are all shocked at the murder of the DIG. We have launched a massive combing operation,” he said.
The government announced an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the family — Singh’s wife is a lecturer in his hometown Hoshiarpur, Punjab, who will now have to raise their twin sons on her own.
Officials were cautious in blaming the Maoists. “We can’t confirm whether the persons who killed Singh were Maoists,” Mishra said.
Police officials suspect Singh might have walked into a trap. “The people who were extorting money could have been decoys,” said an officer.
Another described it as “revenge killing”. This afternoon, Singh was to praise the police for arresting Maoist leader Santosh.