Missing Sikh Lawmaker’s Body Found in Canal
NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ The body of a newly elected Sikh member of Parliament was found in a canal Wednesday, 10 days after he was reported missing, United News of India said.
Jagdev Singh Khudian, who won a seat in Parliament in the Nov. 22-26 general elections, disappeared Dec. 25. Police found his turban, shoes and other personal belongings on the bank of a canal near his home in northern Punjab state.
UNI said his body was found two miles downstream from where the belongings were discovered. There was no immediate word on the cause of death.
Khudian, a member of a semi-religious Sikh party tacitly supported by Sikh militants, was sworn in to Parliament in New Delhi on Dec. 21.
According to police, his family members first claimed Khudian was abducted by four Sikh militants. However, they later said the gray-haired lawmaker went out for a walk and did not return.
Members of Khudian’s Akali Dal party won 6 of the 13 parliamentary seats in Punjab. Three of the other seats were won by independents supported by the party.
Police sources say Sikh militants could be responsible for Khudian’s death because he was one of the four Akali Dal members who took the oath of allegiance to the constitution when he was sworn in, which amounted to renouncing separatism.
Sikh militants have been campaigning for an independent nation in Punjab since 1982. At least 1,820 people were killed in the state in 1989 in violence blamed on the secessionist campaign.
Sikhs form 2 percent of India’s 880 million people but are in a majority in Punjab. Sikh militants claim their community is discriminated against by the Hindus, who make up 80 percent of the population.