CHANDIGARH, India: Jan. 22, Reuter: At least ten people taking morning exercise and practicing yoga were mown down in a Punjab park on Friday.

Four gunmen who fired rounds of bullets through the park also wounded at least two other people, police said.

Police issued an alert warning of possible Hindu reprisals in Punjab, where Sikhs are in the majority, in neighboring Haryana State and in the capital, New Delhi, after receiving reports that the park victims were members of a paramilitary Hindu militant group who had been drilling in the park.

A spokesman for the Hindu group, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), later said none of its members were in the park in Barnala town, 200 km from Chandigarh, when the gunmen opened fire.

Chandigarh RSS President R. K. Mittal said in an interview:

“None of our men were in the park… The dead were members of the public taking exercise”.

Senior Superintendent of Police A.P. Pandey, who visited Barnala, told Reuters by telephone that the victims were exercising and doing yoga.

Gunmen also shot dead a Vice-president of the rightwing Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party in Ludhiana city and two other men, police said.

The killings bring the toll in Punjab violence this month to at least 91.

Police said they believed’ the Sikhs, who want an independent Sikh homeland in Punjab, were stepping up their campaign ahead of India’s National Republic Day holiday next Tuesday.


Article extracted from this publication >> January 29, 1988