After the killing of two policemen on Friday, there followed more violence on Saturday in the troubled state of Punjab in which a close associate of the Chief Minister was also killed.

The Saturday night killings raised the Punjab death toll to seven in the last four days and brought the overall toll to at least 17 killed since moderate Sikhs took over the State’s government in late September and pledged to control violence.

Sikhs are fighting to establish an independent homeland for the religious minority in Punjab.

The state police control room in Amritsar, reporting on the incidents, said a prominent Hindu trader and a suspected Sikh extremist were killed and four people injured in a shootout between police and two gunmen.

The gun battle took place in the market of the town of Barnala in southern Sangruru district. Barnala is the home of Punjab’s new chief Minister, Surjit Singh Barnala.

The Hindu trader, Hira Lal, was a close associate of Barnala and was killed when the gunmen tried to rob him, police said. One gunman was killed in a shootout after police arrived, and the other was wounded. A constable and three bystanders also were wounded.

In a second incident, a Sikh of the orthodox Nihang sect was fatally shot and two people seriously wounded when gunmen fired on them at Viram village near Amritsar, police said.

The victim, Baldev Singh, was the bodyguard of a Nihang chief who was killed last month with his bodyguard in Maharashtra state, allegedly by rival Sikhs who consider the Nihangs to be false Sikhs.

In a third attack, gunmen shot and wounded a Sikh villager in central Ludhiana district, police said.

Article extracted from this publication >>  December 6, 1985