Brahmeshwar Singh, who faced life term in cases of carnage he perpetrated on landless poor, was released in April

Brahmeshwar Singh alias ‘Mukhiyaji,' the chief of Ranvir Sena, the dreaded private militia of upper caste landowners, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen while he was on a morning walk at Katira Mohalla, 71 km from Patna on Friday.

Five private and government vehicles were set ablaze in the violence that broke out in Bhojpur district headquarters town of Ara after the killing, the police said. Mr. Singh was in his early 70s.

Curfew was clamped in Ara, but it was lifted in the afternoon following a high-level review of the situation by senior officials. The situation in the district was described as tense but under control.

Director-General of Police Abhayanand, who is camping in the spot, was roughed up and heckled by the locals, who charged him with failure to provide security to Mr. Singh, who had founded the banned outfit.

Mr. Singh was taking a stroll when six unidentified gunmen, armed with sophisticated weapons, pumped several bullets into him. He died instantaneously.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar appealed for calm and said an investigation was under way to trace the killers.

Mr. Abhayanand constituted a high-level team, led by Deputy Inspector General of Police Ajitabh Kumar, to expedite the probe and submit a report within a month. “The guilty won't be spared,” he said.

Mr. Singh who faced life imprisonment in several cases of carnage he had perpetrated on the lower caste landless poor — including at Laxmanpur Bathe where 61 Dalits were massacred in December 1996 — was acquitted and released from jail in April this year.

Prohibitory orders, under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, would remain in force, sub-divisional police officer Dharmesh Kumar said.

The Opposition RJD, the Congress and the LJP demanded a CBI probe.

Hundreds of Sena supporters gathered at the site and shouted anti-government slogans. They also tried to chase policemen, including the Superintendent of Police, who had arrived there, and later clashed with policemen.