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Was Punjab Shiv Sena leader lured into death trap?

Shiv Sena leader Sudhir Suri

CHANDIGARH: Slain Shiv Sena (Taksali) leader Sudhir Suri, 60, appears to have been trapped into coming out of his house as part of the conspiracy to kill him.

Manik Suri, the son of the murdered Hindu leader,  indianarrative.com that a phone call, showing a Canadian number, was received on Friday. It was a day before the assassination, conveying that “our men are on their way to teach him (Sudhir Suri) a lesson of a lifetime.”

“Papa took the threat seriously and decided not to go out, but a phone call was received telling him that the idols of Hindu deities were strewn over the garbage dump near the Gopal mandir,” Manik said. But now it is being seen as a part of the plan to trap Sudhir Suri so that the killer could shoot him dead. The caller, a former president of Gopal mandir, has been detained by police as part of the investigation into the trap theory.

Amritsar police is also reported to have alerted Suri that there were intelligence reports about an attempt being planned on his life and he should be careful.

Sudhir Suri could not tolerate the sacrilege of Hindu gods and goddesses. He, accompanied by a few other members of Shiv Sena and official police guards, proceeded to Gopal mandir to take stock of the situation, said Manik.

On finding the sacrilege information true, Suri sat on a dharna at the site demanding that the newly elected management of the temple be booked under relevant sacrilege (Beadbi) laws for hurting the religious feelings of the Hindus. A posse of the local police force reached the dharna site to provide additional security cover apart from policemen permanently attached to Sudhir Suri.

The protesting leader went live on his Facebook page to show the sacrilege of deities by picking up idols from the garbage dump. It is near this very site that the assassin Sandeep Singh alias Sunny, 31, had a small garment shop. Sunny’s car, a Suzuki Swift, was parked in front of his shop. He came out of the shop with his licensed .32-bore pistol and shot five rounds from close range at Suri, fatally injuring him.

Manik narrated that instead of firing back at the assassin, over 30 policemen, including the Assistant Commissioner of Police named Khosa, ran helter-skelter, leaving his father bleeding. Some Shiv Sainiks present on the spot responded by firing into the air. Sunny entered an adjoining house aiming to make good his escape, but Shiv Sainiks and some policemen encircled the house, forcing him to come out. The assassin was arrested. The court later sent him to a 7-day police remand for interrogation.

“What is the point of providing security if the guards were to run away at the time of crisis,” Manik questioned. The guilty policemen should be punished, he demanded.

Refusing to cremate the dead Sudhir Suri, his family demanded from the government that an FIR be first, registered against Amritpal Singh, president of Waris Punjab De Khalistani outfit, who was allegedly responsible for the killing. Sunny is reported to have recently got baptised in an ‘Amrit Sanchar’ event held at Akal Takhat Sahib on October 30 under the stewardship of Amritpal.

The second demand put forward by the bereaved family was to recruit an eligible member of the family in suitable government service. The third demand wanted slain Suri be crowned with the title of a ‘Shaheed’ (martyr).

The administration is learnt to have agreed on the first two demands. It gave an assurance to make a positive recommendation to the Punjab government on the third.

Meanwhile, Amritpal along with his entourage of men, was detained by the police in Moga on Saturday as a precautionary measure. He was proceeding to take part in a religious gathering.

Based on the information provided by police, this reporter scrolled through the Instagram account of assassin Sandeep Singh. The account shows that Sunny was a radicalised Sikh youth who stored pictures and videos of living and dead extremists in his account. Pictures of Bhindranwale, beside jailed Jagtar Hawara, Sukha, Jinda, and many others were found on his Instagram account. He is also seen in a video holding his less-than-one-year-old son in his arms and singing a song seeking “azaadi.” A visit to Sunny’s residence by some media persons revealed that the house was locked and his wife had left with her son for an unknown destination.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena’s Punjab bandh call failed to evoke much response on Saturday as markets were mostly open, and the highways had no blockades.

A team from the National Investigation Agency tasked to investigate terrorism-related cases arrived in Amritsar yesterday evening to find out whether the murder of Sudhir Suri was done at the behest of any terrorist organisation. The Punjab police can be asked to transfer the case to NIA which has a designated police station and a special in Mohali.

Since Canada-based terrorist Lakhbir Singh alias Landa has claimed responsibility for the assassination of the Hindu leader, the case fell in the ambit of the NIA mandate.