NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Sikh militants Friday shot and killed an Indian newsman whose newspaper group harshly criticized Sikh separatist demands, a news agency reported.

Prem Nath, who worked for the popular Hindi-language newspaper group The Hind Samachar, was killed at his home in Bara-Bakala in Punjab state, the Press Trust of India reported. His assailants escaped.

Nath, a Hindu, is the 14th journalist slain by Sikh militants since they started their campaign in 1981 for an independent homeland in Punjab.

The militants allege that Sikhs, who make up about 2 percent of India's 880 million people, are discriminated against by the majority Hindus.

United News of India said four policemen and a Sikh militant were killed in a battle in Ludhiana, Punjab, late Thursday.

The slayings brought the death toll blamed on Sikh militants to 2,063 this year.