Facebook, candlelight vigil: Punjab city wakes up to a murder

April 26th, 2011 - 11:17 am ICT by IANS  

Facebook Jalandhar, April 26 (IANS) The killing of a millionaire businessman by his gun-toting childhood friends in this Punjab city last week has prompted thousands of residents to come together through social networking site Facebook, candlelight vigils and protests to seek justice for the victim.

Thirty-year-old Gurkirat Singh Sekhon, Gikky to friends, was murdered in cold blood by the nephew of a sitting Akali Dal legislator who was accompanied by three other friends at a popular eatery near the Model Town area here April 21 night following an argument.

The death of Gikky, whose family has assets and establishments running into millions of rupees, has united a large number of people in and around Jalandhar to the clout of the ruling Akali Dal legislator Sarabjit Singh Makkar’s family.

It was Makkar’s nephew, Ram Simran Singh Makkar aka Prince, who allegedly shot Gikky Sekhon dead from point blank range after an argument at the Baba Rasoi eatery here. Prince, who surrendered to police nearly 18 hours after the murder, is a councillor in the city’s civic body. His three friends Amanpreet Singh Narula, Amardeep Singh Sachdeva and Jasdeep Singh Jassu also surrendered after the incident.

A Facebook page on getting justice for Gikky has had over 9,000 hits within three days and new pages are being added for him every day.

Over 4,000 people assembled at the Desh Bhagat Yadgaar hall here Sunday at a condolence meeting organised by Sekhon’s well-wishers.

The people who assembled there carried posters seeking justice for Gikky, who is survived by elderly parents, a young wife and a son and daughter aged three years and eight months respectively. The people lit hundreds of candles in his memory.

Speakers at the meeting, including Jalandhar Potato Growers’ Association general secretary Jaswinder Singh Sangha, called for socially boycotting the Makkar family, especially the shopping mall and other commercial establishments owned by them.

Lawyer R.K. Bhalla said nearly 1,500 lawyers in Jalandhar will boycott the four lawyers who will represent Prince and his three friends in the murder case.

Given the mood of the gathering, which was against the growing unlawful political clout of the Makkar family, Gikky’s father Rajbir Singh Sekhon even announced at the venue that he would open an office to receive complaints from people who had suffered at the hands of the Makkar family.

“We were receiving complaints against the illegal activities of the Makkars earlier also. Now I will open an office to receive complaints from people against them and will lend all support, including financial help, to fight for their case,” Sekhon said.

Sarabjit Makkar, an Akali Dal legislator from the nearby Adampur constituency, is considered close to Akali Dal president and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

The Akali Dal and Badal, for the moment, seem to have distanced themselves from the Makkar family given the mood of the people.

Badal’s brother-in-law and powerful legislator Bikram Singh Majithia visited the Sekhon family last week and assured them that law would take its own course in the murder case. This was a clear indication that the Akali Dal leadership had abandoned Makkar.

“This is an unfortunate incident. They had been friends since childhood,” Sarabjit Makkar told IANS.

But the ruling Akali Dal wants to stay clear of this murder controversy given the fact that assembly elections are less than one year away. These are scheduled to be held in February-March next year.

Makkar had landed in a major controversy himself last year when he used abusive language against senior Bharatiya Janata Party minister Manoranjan Kalia, who heads the local government ministry, for not approving his mall complex. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal personally intervened and took Makkar with him to apologise to Kalia at his residence. The Akali Dal-BJP have an alliance government in the state.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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