CHANDIGARH, INDIA, AUG) 4, REUTER — Three gunmen killed a hardline Hindu leader on Thursday as he lay in hospital recovering from a car crash, police said.

They said three gunmen drove up on motorcycles to a hospital in Ludhiana, a major city in Punjab, and shot Tej Pal Sathi as he lay in bed. A bodyguard was also killed.

Police said Sathi was head of a breakaway faction of Shiy Sena (Shiva’s Army), a militant Hindu organization.

Pawan Kumar Jain, head of the North Indian section of Shiv Sena, was assassinated on July 29, six weeks after his predecessor was shot dead.

Police attributed those two killings to Sikh militants fighting a bloody campaign for an independent homeland they call Khalistan (Land of the Pure),

Police said Sathi’s killers fled the hospital shooting wildly, jumped on their motorcycles and escaped. No one else at the hospital was hurt in the shooting.

They said they believed the killings of Hindu leaders and random killings of ordinary Hindus were part of a separatist plan to create an anti-Sikh backlash elsewhere in India.

The earlier killings of Shiy Sena leaders were followed by appeals from Hindu politicians not to retaliate against Sikhs.

Police say the separatists hope anti-Sikh violence would drive Sikhs back to Punjab, where they form an overwhelming majority, and drive Hindus from the Prosperous state.

They also said Arjan Singh, a member of the powerful committee which runs Sikh Temples, was also killed on Thursday but no details were immediately available.

Article extracted from this publication >> August 12, 1988