Ludhiana: The widow of a former head of the Namdhari sect was shot dead by two unidentified assailants at a gurdwara complex near Ludhiana on Monday, police said.
Chand Kaur Namdhari, 88, was fired at from close range by two motorcycle-borne assailants at Gurdwara Bhaini Sahib, the headquarters of the sect.
One bullet hit her near her ear and another in the stomach, Bhaini Sahib spokesman Lakhvir Singh said.
The assailants, whom eyewitnesses described to police as turbaned Sikhs, fled the spot as Kaur lay in a pool of blood.
Kaur, the widow of former Namdhari sect chief Jagjit Singh and an aunt of present Namdhari sect chief Uday Singh, was rushed in a critical condition to the Apollo hospital where doctors tried to save her but in vain. She was later pronounced dead.
The police launched a manhunt to nab the assailants after registering a murder case.
"We are investigating. Police teams have been constituted to nab the assailants," a senior Ludhiana police officer told the media.
Meanwhile, a large number of sect followers gathered outside the gurdwara on hearing about the fatal attack on Kaur.
She was visiting the Bhaini Sahib gurdwara near here for a function when she was shot.
"The assailants fired shots from a revolver from close range and fled. Two bullets hit her," a police official investigating the crime said.
Chand Kaur had appointed Uday Singh as the sect head in 2012 after the death of her husband, ignoring opposition from his elder brother Dalip Singh.
She had refused to take security despite threats to the sect leadership in recent years and a couple of attacks on its top leaders.
The Namdharis are a sect of the Sikh religion but follow their own tenets. Namdhari Sikhs are conspicuous by their white robes as well as white turbans tied in a distinct style.