Punjab: 1 Killed, 3 Injured in Attack on Cong Rally
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Over a dozen armed men opened indiscriminate fire at a Congress-PPP election rally, killing one person and injuring at least three others in Rampura Phull area of the district.

Around 15-16 armed men opened fire at the rally in Adampur village here organised ahead of May 19 panchayat polls.

Congress activist Jasvir Singh was killed in the attack while Lakhbir Singh alias Lakha Sidhana, a prominent PPP leader and the son of Congress candidate for Zila Parishad polls was injured, sources said.

Lakha had addressed the rally in favour of Congress candidate Malkiat Singh, who is contesting election to Bathinda Zila Parishad from Bhai Rupa zone.

Malkiat's brother Rajwinder Singh alias Raju was also wounded in the firing. The third, Balbir Singh, a close associate of Lakha was also injured in the attack.

Lakha has suffered four gun shot injuries in his abdomen, shoulder and ankle and his condition is serious, hospital sources said.

According to police sources over 60 rounds were fired from various weapons including .30 pistol, a .30 US carbine and .12 bore gun besides some other weapons at Lakha, while he had just entered his car.

Police have recovered about 30 spent cartridges from the spot.

Meanwhile, SSP Bathinda Ravcharan Brar termed it a "gang war" and said the attack was a result of personal enmity and not because of political rivalry.

"One of the injured, Balbir Singh, has identified one of the assailants as Jagseer Singh alias Seera," the SSP said.

The police officer said that Lakha and Seera had old rivalry and the firing was part of "gang war" between them.

"The assailants have cleverly chosen an election rally for the attack to avoid suspicion. But we have identified and they would soon be arrested," he said.

Meanwhile, Union minister Manish Tewari condemned the killing of the Congress worker and said his murder vindicated the party's stand that the "ruling alliance was resorting to violence and intimidation to hoodwink the political opponents".

"Akalis were setting a very dangerous precedent by resorting to such type of violence," Tewari said.

Tewari said the elections are fought by ballots and not by bullets.

"But, unfortunately, the Akalis were trying to turn it into a war of bullets instead of ballots, which is wrong for democracy and for the state and must be strongly condemned," the Information and broadcasting minister said.

The Punjab Congress demanded President's rule in the state "to create safe conditions for the May 19 local bodies elections".

Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the incident was justification enough for President's Rule to be imposed in Punjab.

In a statement here, Amarinder pointed out that it was the second incident of killing of political workers allegedly by Akalis in the walk up to Block Samiti and Zilla Parishad elections.

"You can't win over people by killing them," Amrinder warned.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Sunil Jakhar demanded a judicial probe into all incidents.

Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa also condemned the "murderous attack" on the Congress candidate.

Bajwa said he would soon meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and appeal him to seek a report from the Governor on the "deteriorating law and order situation" in the state and also demanded that the Union Home Ministry send a high-level team to take stock of the situation.

Without naming anyone, he, in a statement at Chandigarh, blamed a senior Akali minister for the attack.

PPP president Manpreet Singh Badal alleged that the Akalis have harassed and tortured several of his leaders and sought deployment of central forces for the polls.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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