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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Dhandhuka murder case: Cleric among 2 in 8-day police remand

The Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) also submitted that it will investigate if the two accused are affiliated with any Islamic fundamentalist organization or banned anti-India terrorist groups.

Written by Vaibhav Jha , Sohini Ghosh | Ahmedabad |
Updated: February 1, 2022 9:09:41 am
Members of the Hindu Jagran Manch and Vishwa Hindu Parishad protest in Vadodara on Monday. (Express Photo by Bhupendra Rana)

A magisterial court in Monday granted eight days remand of cleric Maulvi Qamar Gani Usmani (40) to the Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), a day after he was arrested in connection with the murder of Kishan Boliya alias Kishan Bharwad in Dhandhuka, Ahmedabad, recently.

The ATS also received eight days remand for another accused Azeem Sama (38) from Rajkot who was arrested in the same case. Both accused were arrested on January 30 at 8.30 pm, as submitted in the remand application by the ATS and have been sent to police remand till February 7.

According to public prosecutor JC Patel, representing the state in the hearing on remand application, the court granting eight-day remand came following Usmani’s submission that he will cooperate with the investigation.

Bharwad, 30, was allegedly shot dead by two bike-borne men in Dhandhuka on January 25 when he was travelling on a motorcycle. Later, police revealed the murder allegedly followed an objectionable social media video post by Bharwad.

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Five persons, including two clerics — Maulvi Qamar Gani Usmani, Maulana Mohammad Ayyub Javarawala — and Sabbir Chopda, Imtiyaz Pathan and Azeem Sama have been arrested so far.

According to police, while it was Sabbir and Imtiyaz who allegedly shot at Bharwad, the weapon was allegedly provided by Javarwala and Sama and the shooters were allegedly instigated by Usmani.

Usmani was also arrested in November last year by the Tripura police under section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for advocating, abetting, inciting any unlawful activity.

“It has come out in the investigation that the main shooter Sabbir contacted Usmani on Instagram and then he was invited to Delhi by the latter,” said a senior ATS official.

The ATS in its remand application seeking custody of the two accused for 14 days explained that among the aspects that the investigating agency plans to probe includes Sama’s involvement in supplying arms given his “prior arrest under Arms Act”.

They will also look into his prior criminal antecedents since he is facing charges of murder, offences punishable under the Arms Act, and Prohibition Act in almost a dozen offences in multiple police stations of Rajkot, and has been arrested under provisions of the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) act in the past.

The ATS has cited his criminal antecedents as an indication of being a “hardened criminal.” According to ATS’ remand application, Usmani, who runs an organisation named Tahreek Farooghe Islam in Delhi, needs to be probed on where he held meetings in Gujarat and if he received any funding from within India or abroad “to teach lessons to those making comments against Islam and the Prophet”.

Usmani was arrested for inciting the people of Panisagar in Tripura in November 2021 and was subsequently released on bail, according to the remand application.

ATS also submitted that it will investigate if the two accused are affiliated with any Islamic fundamentalist organization or banned anti-India terrorist groups.

According to a senior official of Gujarat ATS overseeing the case, Usmani had visited Gujarat multiple times in the past six months of the last year.

“Later, Usmani himself visited several cities- Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara- of Gujarat for the next six months wherein he tried to build a base for his organisation by reaching out to youth. Even in the past, Usmani has been vocal about harsh punishment in blasphemy cases,” the ATS official added.

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