Militants Gun Down Nine Relatives of Policemen
AMRITSAR, India (AP) _ Sikh militants gunned down nine relatives of policemen today as part of a series of killings to avenge the death of one of their guerrilla commanders, police said.
Since Monday, militants have killed 56 policemen or their relatives following the weekend death of Sukhdev Singh Babbar, described by the government as India’s most wanted Sikh terrorist.
Targeting policemen’s families appears aimed at demoralizing the police and persuading Sikhs to quit the force.
Bolstered by the negotiated surrender of 71 militants on Wednesday, the Punjab state government has claimed success in curbing the decade-old insurgency for an independent Sikh nation.
Today’s killings began shortly after midnight at Tarsika village, 15 miles east of Amritsar. Militants drove up to a policeman’s house, dragged his parents and three brothers out of their beds and shot them in a nearby field, said police officer Hari Ram Banga.
The militants then went to the house of another constable in the same village and killed his parents, Banga said.
In a separate incident, militants walked to a police officer’s house in Johoora village, 56 miles east of this holy city, and shot dead the officer’s wife and brother, said officer Dinkar Gupta.
The militants claim India denies Sikhs their religious and cultural rights in Punjab, the northwestern state where they are in a slight majority. Nationwide, Sikhs comprise 2 percent of India’s 844 million population, which is predominantly Hindu.
More than 2,500 people have been killed so far this year in Punjab.