AMRITSAR, Punjab, India: Jan. 9, Reuter: Unidentified assailants shot dead a former Minister and a Senior Congress (1) leader and his driver and then set their bodies ablaze on a rural road in the north Indian state of Punjab on Saturday, police said.

They said the body of former Punjab Public Relations Minister Tarlochan Singh Riyastri and his driver, Gurmail Singh, were doused with petrol and ignited near Ludhiana.

In another incident, a Sikh leader, Satnam Singh Bawa, was allegedly freed from custody near Amritsar on Saturday when his police escort was ambushed while he was being moved. Police have said Bawa was suspected of involvement in the massacre of 36 bus passengers in neighboring Haryana State last year.

Earlier on Saturday, police said gunmen also killed a village headman’s wife and a youth in separate incidents in Punjab.

Riyastri, once belonged to the main Sikh political party the Akai later on switched allegiance to the Congress (I) party headed by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Earlier this month, another former State Minister and Congress (I) State politician, Jagat Ram, also was killed.

At least 30 people have been killed in Punjab violence so far this year. More than 1230 people were killed in Punjab violence last year.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 15, 1988