Gunmen Kill High Politician, Wife in India
Gunmen today shot and killed a member of Parliament who had been named in a private report as a ringleader of anti-Sikh rioting in which more than 2,400 people were killed, the Press Trust of India said.
Two gunmen in their early 20s --one armed with a machine gun--shot down Lalit Maken and his politician wife, Gitanjali, as they were leaving their home to attend a session of Parliament.
Maken died at the scene of the shooting and his wife died later in a New Delhi hospital. A bystander also was killed and Maken’s driver was slightly injured.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the United News of India said Sikh terrorists were involved.
Extensive Hunt Launched
Authorities sealed the capital’s borders with neighboring states and launched an extensive hunt for the slayers, beginning with a search of New Delhi airport and railroad stations.
A one-week ban on public assembly of more than four people in New Delhi and the adjacent walled city of old Delhi was also imposed after the lawmaker’s shooting triggered stoning of buses.
Both houses of Parliament were adjourned until Thursday after the government announced Maken’s death.
Press reports said Maken, 34, a rising member of the ruling Congress Party, had recently received a threatening letter in connection with his alleged role in instigating anti-Sikh violence after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination last Oct. 31. The government accused Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards of killing her.
Maken on ‘Hit List’
Maken was also reportedly on a Sikh terrorist “hit list” in connection with the four days of carnage that followed the assassination.
Witnesses said the gunmen opened fire as the couple stepped out of their New Delhi residence to drive to Parliament.
Maken, who was hit in the stomach, and his wife ran into the house, but the gunmen chased them inside and kept firing.
Police said the assassins escaped on a stolen motor scooter.
Gitanjali Maken was former president of the National Students Union of India, the Congress Party’s student wing.