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Gorakhnath temple attack terror, could be part of a plot: UP Police

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is the head priest of the temple but police said he was not present on the premises when the incident occurred. On Monday evening, Adityanath visited the temple and the spot where the incident took place, and met the injured personnel in hospital.

Written by Manish Sahu | Lucknow |
Updated: April 5, 2022 7:06:25 am
Gorakhnath temple attack terror, could be part of a plot: UP PoliceA video grab of the incident in Gorakhpur. (PTI)

THE ATTACK on police personnel posted at the Gorakhnath temple in Gorakhpur by a 29-year-old man is part of a “serious conspiracy” and “could be called a terror incident”, UP Police said, even as the attacker’s family said he had been undergoing treatment for depression since 2017.

Around 8 pm on Sunday, the accused Ahmed Murtaza Abbasi, an IIT-Bombay graduate who hails from Gorakhpur, attacked PAC personnel posted at the temple with a “sharp-edged weapon” while raising religious slogans and trying to forcibly enter the premises, police said.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is the head priest of the temple but police said he was not present on the premises when the incident occurred. On Monday evening, Adityanath visited the temple and the spot where the incident took place, and met the injured personnel in hospital.

According to police, two PAC jawans, Gopal Gaur and Anil Paswan, were seriously injured in the attack and admitted to hospital where their condition has been described as stable. Both suffered injuries on their hands and legs, police said.

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Abbasi was also injured in the attack, which was foiled by civil police constable Anurag Rajput who overpowered the accused and arrested him. An FIR has been lodged against Abbasi under various sections of the IPC, including attempt to murder and creating enmity between two groups, and the Arms Act. He was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days and taken to the Gorakhpur jail.

ADG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said the attack is “part of a serious conspiracy and on the basis of collected evidence, could be called a terror incident”. He added that there was “no breach of security” at the temple, which has a large following and emerged as a power centre in the state after Adityanath first became Chief Minister in 2017.

According to the police, a bag belonging to Abbasi was recovered at the temple gate, and it contained a laptop, another sharp-edged weapon and ID cards. The police have also recovered a cellphone from the accused. The laptop and cellphone will be sent to a lab for examination to get details about the accused’s movements and contacts over the past few months, they said.

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said the investigation has been transferred to UP Police’s Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), which will work with the Special Task Force (STF) to probe the incident. ADG (ATS) Naveen Arora and ADG (STF) Amitabh Yash have been sent to Gorakhpur for investigation.

Abbasi’s father Muneer Ahmed, who worked for a legal consultancy in Mumbai before taking retirement and returning home last year, told reporters that his son was undergoing treatment for depression and “not well since around 2017”. He said his son “wanted to commit suicide”, which is why he went to the high-security zone.

“Doctors in Mumbai examined him and gave him treatment. He was good in studies,” Ahmed said.

He also claimed that two policemen had come to his house to collect details about his son two days ago. When contacted, ADG Kumar said he had no knowledge of any such visit by the police.

According to UP police, preliminary investigations have revealed that Abbasi was married and that his wife left him a few months ago because of differences between them. “He was working in a private firm in Mumbai and returned to Gorakhpur after losing the job last year. Since then, he has been staying here. The accused has a sister,” said a police officer.

Police sources told The Indian Express that during questioning, the family of the accused said he left home on Saturday “for some work and did not return”.

ADG (Gorakhpur zone) Akhil Kumar said the police are collecting more details and would seek Mumbai Police’s help in the investigation. Shivaji Rathod, DCP and spokesperson for Mumbai Police, said the UP Police had not contacted them yet. A source at IIT-Bombay confirmed that Abbasi had studied at the institute.

Additional Chief Secretary Awasthi said the Chief Minister has announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh each to PAC jawans Gaur and Paswan, and Rajput.

Recently, following a proposal sent by the police to upgrade security at the temple, the UP government had created the posts of an Additional Superintendent of Police and a Deputy Superintendent of Police for the purpose.

The temple is known to have played an active role in the Ayodhya Ram temple movement under its three mahants — Digvijay Nath, Avaidyanath and Yogi Adityanath. On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, thousands of devotees visit the temple from districts adjoining Gorakhpur, Bihar and even Nepal.

(With ENS in Mumbai)

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