Punjab Police on Sunday formed a four-member SIT to probe the Ludhiana pastor’s murder and said that they were analysing the pattern of crime in cases which involved two masked bike-borne assailants carrying out the murders. Apart from the pastor’s killing on Saturday, there have been four other murders over the past one year involving similar modus operandi.
Announcing the formation of the SIT to probe the pastor’s murder, Ludhiana Police Commissioner R N Dhoke said: “Yes, we are looking at the past crime cases and the pattern of crime which is similar to last night’s (Saturday) crime as well. Motorcycles were used in all cases. However, we are working on all possible theories to crack the case soon. Family has agreed for a funeral tomorrow. We are collecting all evidences from the family and the visitors of church.”
He added that the four-member SIT will be headed by DCP (Investigation) Gagan Ajit Singh, and will give him a report every week.
Beginning with the killing of Namdhari sect matriarch Mata Chand Kaur in April 2016, there have been few other murders — like that of RSS leader Jagdish Gagneja in Jalandhar, murder of Dera Sacha Sauda followers Ramesh Kumar and Satpal Sharma in Sangrur, and that of Shiv Sena leader Durga Prasad Gupta in Khanna — where two masked men came on a motorcycle and the pillion rider then pumped bullets into the victims from a close range. All incidents, including the attack on pastor Sultan Masih, happened on a Saturday, with the attackers fleeing within a few seconds. None of the cases have been solved till date.
CCTV footage of Saturday’s attack revealed that the victim was talking on his phone when two masked men on a bike approached and the pillion rider carried out the attack. As the victim collapsed on the ground, the men on the motorcycle sped away. While there was heavy traffic movement on the road, the accused manged to flee. The faces of the accused are not clear in the footage.
Dhoke, however, said that it was too early to say that one gang was behind this episode as the SIT formed was yet to find out all the details in this case.
He added, “We have been told about few suspected persons by the family members and we are working on that. Moreover, we are finding out details of pastor Masih’s mobile.” Interestingly, while police said that the family had mentioned the names of a few persons it suspected, the family members, while talking with The Indian Express, denied the same.
About the deadline to solve the case, Dhoke said that there is no specific deadline to solve the case and police wanted to crack the case in a scientific way.
Asked about there being a terror angle behind the episode, he said: “We cannot say anything on this as of now as we are investigating the case thoroughly and are yet to arrive at any conclusion.”
Sources revealed that the bike used by the attackers was a Pulsar. The attackers who targeted Mata Chand Kaur had also come on a Pulsar.
The other members of SIT formed on Sunday are Rattan Singh Brar, ACP, Ludhiana-I, Maninder Bedi, ACP (Investigation) and Amandeep Brar SHO, Salem Tabri.
Meanwhile, the incident has brought people of different religions on a common platform to appeal for peace. Maulana Abul Rehman Sani Ludhianavi, the Imam of Jama Masjid, Ludhiana, condemned this incident and said that it was an attempt to disturb peace of Punjab. He said that the “attackers should be hanged for this heinous act”.