Two days after Kutch-based Dalit activist-cum-lawyer, Devji Maheshwari, was murdered allegedly by a Mumbai-based man over his alleged “anti-Brahmin” posts on social media, police detained five more accused in the case on Sunday.
So far, six accused, including Bharat Raval, a resident of Malad West in Mumbai and native of Rapar, have been detained in the case even as a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising seven senior police officers of Kutch Range was formed on Sunday to investigate the case.
Fifty-year-old Maheshwari was murdered on Friday evening in Rapar of Kutch Gandhidham, allegedly by Raval, who is seen in the CCTV footage following the victim inside a building in Rapar town. Nine were booked in the murder case following a complaint by the victim’s wife, Minaxiben Maheshwari.
Mayur Patil, superintendent of police, Kutch Gandhidham, told The Indian Express, “The main accused was held from Mumbai on Saturday and we detained five more accused today (Sunday). We are yet to corroborate with the main accused regarding the role of the remaining accused in the murder and legal proceedings such as Covid test of the detainees are going on… An SIT, which will be overseen by the Inspector General of Kutch Range, with seven senior officers, including me, has also been formed.”
On Saturday, Raval was held by a team of Mumbai Crime Branch and was handed over to the Gujarat Police for further investigation.
According to police, Maheshwari was killed by Raval, a Brahmin, who objected to the social media posts made by the victim, critical of Brahminism. The last post on Maheshwari’s Facebook post was a video of All India Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF) national president Waman Meshram saying that members of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes were not Hindus.
According to police, both Maheshwari and Raval had clashed repeatedly over the past one month where the latter had warned Maheshwari regarding his social media posts. Raval, Mumbai Police said, travelled to Rapar from Malad on Wednesday with the intention of murdering Maheshwari. CCTV footage from the area showed Maheshwari entering his office building at 6 pm on Friday and a man wearing a red T-shirt following him inside. Seconds later, the man runs out of the building and flees.
An FIR was lodged against Raval and eight others – Jaysukh Luhar, Khimji Luhar, Dhaval Luhar, Devubha Sodha, Vijaysinh Sodha, Mayursinh Sodha, Pravinsinh Sodha and Arjansinh Sodha – for murder under Indian Penal Code section 302 and sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The victim’s wife said in her complaint that her husband had gone to Rapar for some work on an ongoing legal case against the persons of Luhar community. She added that Maheshwari was the only lawyer who had agreed to represent the legal case against persons of Luhar community recently and he was frequenting police stations to get FIRs lodged.
“The other accused named in the FIR are connected to Maheshwari through the legal cases he was representing. We are yet to find any connection between them and main accused, Raval,” said a senior police officer in Kutch.