A day after Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor in Udaipur, was hacked to death by two men, Mohammad Riyaz and Ghouse Mohammad, for allegedly sharing remarks made by BJP’s Nupur Sharma on the Prophet, Rajasthan Minister of State for Home Rajendra Singh Yadav said Wednesday that Ghouse Mohammad had been to Karachi in 2014 and been making phone calls to Pakistan “for the last 2-3 years”.
Director General of Police M L Lather said Ghouse had gone to visit the office of Dawat-e-Islami in Karachi. The DeI is a Sunni Islamic proselytising group founded in Pakistan by Muhammad Ilyas Attar Qadri in 1981.
Minister Yadav said Ghouse “went to Karachi in 2014 and spent about 45 days there. Then in 2018-19, he had movements in Arab countries and also visited Nepal a few times. And for the last 2-3 years, he was making calls to 8-10 phone numbers of Pakistan.”
“The crime they have committed is not one which could have been committed by a common man. So the NIA has lodged a case and their network will be found out and the guilty will be jailed,” he said.
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As outrage over the killing mounted and condemnation poured in from different parts of the country, Gehlot cut short a visit to Jodhpur and returned to Jaipur where he chaired a meeting to review the Udaipur case with top state officials of the state. Post meeting, CM said that “preliminary probe reveals that the incident has been committed with an objective to spread terror and fear. It appears that they had a connection with international organisations, therefore it is obvious for the NIA to probe the entire incident.” He said that the state’s Special Operations Group (SOG) and Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) will extend “complete support” to the NIA in its investigation.
DGP Lather told reporters that the questioning of Ghouse and Riyaz so far had revealed that “they were associated with an organisation named Dawat-e-Islami” and Ghouse “was in constant touch with other members of the organisation”.
“Ghouse Mohammad had gone to visit Dawat-e-Islami in Karachi in 2014. On paper, its mission is to preach religious practices and propagate the particular sect. They don’t have any such office in Rajasthan. In India, they have an office in Kanpur, and head offices in Mumbai and Delhi,” the DGP said.
On Wednesday, the NIA re-registered the FIR in the case. The original FIR and then the NIA FIR was lodged under IPC sections 302 (murder), 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) as well as sections 16, 18 and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The DGP said that considering the nature of the case “and as per instructions from the Chief Minister, this case has been treated as ‘act of terror’ since the beginning and hence a case was lodged under the UAPA. In this regard, the NIA was informed and their help was sought. NIA officials left for Udaipur on Tuesday night and reached Wednesday morning, and joined the investigation.”
He said “since it is a scheduled offence, it was transferred to the NIA while the Rajasthan Police will support (the investigation).”
While the two main accused were formally arrested on Wednesday, four others, who were also allegedly involved in the case, are currently being questioned, as per police.
On the background of the two main accused, Lather said “Mohammad Riyaz used to work as a welder while the other person used to do menial jobs. So far, no criminal history of either has been found.”
Additionally, the SHO of Dhanmandi police station, Govind Singh, and ASI Balu Ram have been suspended. The Dhanmandi police station had lodged an FIR against Kanhaiya Lal on June 10, based on the complaint by one Nazim Ahmed, for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. Police arrested Kanhaiya on June 11, and he was granted bail the next day.
Balu Ram was the investigating officer in the case and the police had brokered peace between both sides on June 15, when Kanhaiya Lal had sought police protection following alleged threats from Nazim, but later withdrew it after the agreement.
However, the DGP said that no link between Nazim and the two who murdered Kanhaiya has been found as yet although the case is still under investigation. Additionally, Riyaz and Ghouse had not met Kanhaiya previously either. During questioning, one of the accused also claimed that he crafted the weapon used to murder Kanhaiya Lal, as per the DGP.
“There is a post-Nupur situation and a pre-Nupur situation. Considering the charged atmosphere, the SHO could not read the situation well and the legal action which should have been taken, wasn’t taken. Hence, the SHO and the ASI have been suspended and departmental action will be taken. Additionally, action will be taken against anyone else too if laxity is found at any level. No one will be spared,” he said.
On the other hand, five constables have been promoted, out of turn, to head constable for their role in nabbing the two.
Later in the day, CM chaired an all-party meeting attended by BJP MLA and spokesperson Ramlal Sharma, former minister and former BJP state president Arun Chaturvedi, RLD’s Subhash Garg who is also a minister in Gehlot cabinet, as well as members of RLP, CPI, CPM, and independent MLAs, among others. In the meeting, CM said that “entire state stands with Kanhaiya Lal’s family” and announced a financial aid of Rs 50 lakh to the family.
In a resolution, the parties unanimously condemned the incident and sought the harshest punishment for the guilty as per law. They also appealed to the citizens to maintain peace and resolved that they won’t let anti-social elements succeed in their schemes.
The government claimed that all the representatives praised the government for quick action and not committing any laxity, while thanking the government for calling the all party meeting.
On Thursday, CM Gehlot, MoS (Home) Rajendra Yadav, DGP Lather, Chief Secretary Usha Sharma and others are scheduled to visit Udaipur. The CM is scheduled to meet Kanhaiya Lal’s family around 11 am, followed by a law and order meeting in Udaipur at noon.
In New Delhi, the Ministry of Home Affairs directed the NIA to take over the case.
“MHA has directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take over the investigation of the brutal murder of Shri Kanhaiya Lal Teli committed at Udaipur, Rajasthan yesterday. The involvement of any organisation and international links will be thoroughly investigated,” the office of Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in a Twitter post.
A senior police officer said “cyber forensic analysis” of the phones of the two assailants is being done. “It is being examined if they are part of some online group that motivates people for lone-wolf attacks on religious lines. It is being explored if they were part of some self-appointed Islamic State group,” the officer said.
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