Salem/Chennai: BJP`s Tamil Nadu unit general secretary V Ramesh has been hacked to death by unidentified assailants near his house in Salem on Friday night triggering an outrage in the party which gave a call for a state-wide bandh on July 22.
A total of 17 stab injuries were found on the body of Ramesh, doctors at the Salem Government Hospital said. 52-year-old Ramesh was brutally attacked by a four-member unidentified gang while he was returning home after visiting the party office to discuss party affairs at around 9pm last night in Salem, Salem range police DIG Sanjay Kumar said.
Police said Ramesh died on the spot. The attack on Ramesh, achartered accountant by profession and who was also associated with the RSS, triggered protests and sporadic incidents of stone pelting in the state. BJP demanded that the Tamil Nadu government order a judicial probe into the murder even as special police teams were formed to trace the assailants.
As a precautionary measure, authorities ordered closure of schools in Salem on Saturday.
"We want the guilty to be brought to book. We want a detailed probe into the incident by a retired judge of the Madras high court," BJP state president Pon Radhakrishnan said.
"We want a detailed probe so that such incidents don`t happen in the future," he said.
Radhakrishnan accused the state government of not providing security to his party leaders and claimed in the last one year, three state-level leaders, Arun Reddy, P Murugan and Velliyan, were murdered and the culprits were still at large.
He alleged that even police had not taken action on their pleas to provide protection to partymen.
Party`s national leaders condemned the incident, with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modiand leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, calling for action against the guilty.
Both expressed shock over Ramesh`s killing, with Swaraj poiting out that this was the third such incident in the state involving a senior party functionary.
"Killing of our Tamil Nadu unit`s General Secretary Ramesh is shocking. Spoke to TN BJP President last night and expressed sadness on the killing. My deepest condolences to the family of Ramesh. May his soul rest in peace. The culprits must be punished at the earliest," tweeted Modi.
Swaraj said government must apprehend those behind the "brutal" murder.
National spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman said BJP leaders in the state were being attacked in a "planned manner" and said not all the accused in the case pertaining to planting a pipe bomb in senior leader LK Advani`s yatra route in 2011 have been apprehended so far.
She demanded that the state government set up a Special Investigation Team to probe each of the attacks on party leaders in the state and called for upholding peace and law and order.
Anguished over the killing, BJP activists staged protest in Chennai demanding immediate arrest of those responsible for the murder.
Salem range Police DIG Sanjay Kumar said the BJP leader had gone to his office to discuss party affairs around 9 pm and was attacked by four persons while returning to his residence.
Meanwhile, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy demanded that the state government appoint a special investigation team to probe the recent killings of leaders of Hindu outfits.
A report from Coimbatore said tight security cover has been thrown in and around the city today, following the murder of Ramesh. More than 50 per cent shops and commercial establishments were closed in nearby Tirupur, fearing trouble.
About 1,000 police personnel were posted to keep vigil in sensitive areas and 33 patrol vehicles were also deployed, police said. Similarly, closure of shops were also reported in Avanashi and Palladam, and some BJP workers were arrested for trying to block roads in Tirupur district.
In Kumbakonam, 13 BJP workers were taken into custody for staging demonstration.