BJP's Tamil Nadu unit General Secretary V Ramesh has been hacked to death by unidentified assailants near his house in Salem that sparked 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 9 pm last night in Salem, Salem range Police DIG Sanjay Kumar said. Police said Ramesh died on the spot.
The attack on Ramesh, a chartered 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 today.
"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 told PTI.
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 that the culprits were still at large.
The attack was roundly condemned by BJP's national leaders with Gujarat Chief Minister and party's election campaign chief Narendra Modi and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj calling for action against the guilty.
"Killing of our Tamil Nadu unit's General Secretary V Ramesh is shocking. Spoke to TN BJP President last night and expressed sadness on the killing...The culprits must be punished at the earliest," Modi tweeted.
National spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman said BJP leaders in the state were being attacked "one after another" in a "planned manner" which is a matter of great concern.
She demanded that the state government set up a Special Investigation Team to probe each of the attacks on party leaders in the state.