Chandigarh: A day after one person was killed immediately after an election rally in Bhatinda district, two more were gunned down on Friday in a village in Amritsar in an exchange of fire between two groups, pushing the toll in the run up to the May 19 panchayat polls in Punjab to four. Tension was brewing between two groups in Chak Mishri Khan village over a consensus to elect the village panchayat, without polls.
The groups, each owing allegiance to ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and Opposition Congress were holding a meeting when tempers ran high and the agitated people pulled out guns and started shooting each other, sources said. Gurjidner Singh (42), a Congress supporter and Balkar Singh (22), an activist of ruling SAD were killed, a report from Amritsar quoting the police said in Chandigarh.
Amritsar (Rural) DSP Jagatpreet Singh said, situation took an ugly turn when two groups indulged in a heated argument and opened fire on each other. However, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Amritsar (Rural) Manmohan Singh denied any political connection to the incident.
The killing took place due to some personal enmity and on-going grudge between the two groups, he said. Police patrolled the towns of Moga, Baghapurana, Nihal Singh Wala, Badhni Kalan, Dharamkot and Kotisekhan to instill confidence among people ahead of the elections, officials said.
Congress MLA Sukhbinder Singh described the killing of Gurjidner Singh as a "cold blooded murder". When asked about the death of a SAD activist, he said the person was killed in an intra-party rivalry and Congress was not involved.
Only Thursday, one person was killed and three others were injured after an election rally of the Congress in Bhatinda. The incident occurred in Adampur village near Bhagta Bhai Ka, when around 16 armed persons opened fire at a Congress-Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP) rally, killing one Jasvir Singh - a close associate of injured Lakhbir Singh alias Lakha Sidhana, a prominent leader of the PPP and son of a Congress candidate for Zilla Parishad elections.
Earlier, a youth Congress activist was killed in Tarn Taran district. Seeking deployment of central forces, Congress has demanded imposition of President's Rule in the state.
Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa has alleged that the ruling SAD has unleashed "political terrorism" in the state against its opponents. Panchayat Samiti and Zilla Parishad elections will be held in the state on May 19.