New Delhi — Sikh leader Harchand Singh Longowal, a moderate who recently negotiated a peace accord for the Punjab State with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was shot and killed Tuesday by Sikh extremist gunmen, police said. The attack came only hours after a leader of Mr. Gandhi's Congress (I) Party in the Punjab was killed and two of his colleagues injured in a new outbreak of extremist violence in the northern state.
A Punjabi government spokesman said the Army had been asked to stand by in the state.
Police said four young Sikhs armed with revolvers opened fire at Mr. Longowal, head of the main Sikh political party Akali Dal, at a Sikh shrine in the Punjab town of Sherpur, some 75 miles from the capital, Chandigarh. Longowal's bodyguards seized two of the gunmen. The Press Trust of India (PTI) said one of them was shot and wounded by the bodyguards. The other two escaped in the crowd of about 600 people.
The government spokesman said paramilitary troops and police sealed all roads from Sherpur and launched a manhunt for Longowal's attackers.
Longowal is the moderate who signed a Punjab peace accord with Gandhi on July 24 in an attempt to end three years of violence over extremists' demands for a separate Sikh state.
The agreement, which promised a devolution of power to local authorities, paved the way for Punjabi elections. The elections for the state's 117-seat assembly and 13 national Parliament seats are scheduled for Sept. 22.
Akali Dal decided Monday to take part in the elections despite earlier demands for a postponement of the vote until February or March.
Earlier Tuesday, four gunmen shot and killed Congress (I) leader D. D. Khullar in a house in the city of Jullunder, a senior police official told Reuters by telephone from Chandigarh. The assailants escaped by car.
The attack took place in the home of another Congress (I) leader, Gurdial Saini. He and another visitor at the house were seriously wounded in the attack, police said.
Mr. Khullar headed the Congress (I) Party organization in Jullunder District.
The official said police and paramilitary troops had launched a manhunt for Khullar's killers.
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