Kamlesh Tiwari, former working president of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha who had appealed on behalf of the organisation in the Ayodhya case before the Supreme Court, was killed Friday at his Lucknow home.
A controversial leader, Tiwari founded the Hindu Samaj Party about three years ago. He had been jailed in 2015 over a remark he made about the Prophet that triggered protests and violence. The Lucknow police had also invoked the NSA against him but it was set aside a year later by the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court.
An SIT has been formed and police are looking for two youths, seen in CCTV footage, entering the Khurshed Bagh house around noon. A pistol and an empty cartridge, recovered from the spot, are being analysed. Police are looking into call detail records of Tiwari’s mobile phone and will question a policeman stationed at the house for his security. They are also drawing sketches of the suspects.
After a preliminary check, doctors told police that Tiwari’s throat had been slit. Later, Additional SP (West Lucknow) Vikas Chandra Tripathi said the “postmortem report of Kamlesh Tiwari stated that there is a bullet injury near the neck.”
Tiwari’s wife Kiran has lodged an FIR against two clerics of Bijnor mosques, accusing them of murder and criminal conspiracy. She alleged that they were behind the killing. In 2015, after Tiwari’s remark on the Prophet led to protests, the clerics had announced cash rewards for his head. Incidentally, one of them was arrested a year later by Bijnor police on the charge of rape.
Meanwhile, police are also looking into a Gujarat police chargesheet from two years ago. Alleged IS operatives Kasim Stimberwala and Obed Mirza, arrested in October 2017, told Gujarat police about plans to kill Tiwari.
Confirming this, Gujarat ATS DIG Himanshu Shukla said: “In the chargesheet, it is mentioned that Kasim and Obed had confessed to police that they had planned to kill Kamlesh Tiwari because he had allegedly made objectionable remarks about the Prophet.”
Following his killing, Tiwari’s supporters and area residents blocked the Naka road crossing, demanding immediate arrest of the assailants. Stones were hurled and shops downed shutters.
Hari Shankar Jain, Tiwari’s lawyer before the Supreme Court, said: “Kamlesh Tiwari was one of the appellants in the Supreme Court in the title suit of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid. The appeal was admitted in the Supreme Court.” He said the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha had filed its plea through Tiwari.
Additional SP Tripathi said Tiwari’s assailants appeared to be known to him, and police are also probing personal enmity as a possible motive for the murder.
Swarashtra Deep Singh, in-charge of Tiwari’s party for Kushinagar district, who was present in the room when the assailants arrived, told The Indian Express: “At around 11 am, Kamlesh Tiwari received a phone call after which he asked his wife, Kiran, to clean the room on the first floor of the building since some visitors were arriving. He also asked her to prepare tea for them.”
Over an hour later, two persons showed up and went straight to the first floor where Tiwari was waiting for them. Kiran was on the ground floor while their three sons were not present in the house, Singh said.
“After half-an-hour, one of the visitors gave me money to go and buy cigarettes for him. When I returned after a few minutes, I was shocked to see Tiwari lying on the floor. There were injuries around his throat and blood was oozing out. The visitors were not around,” Singh said, adding that he raised an alarm and Tiwari’s wife ran to the first floor. The police were informed.
Tiwari was taken to the Trauma Centre of the King George Medical University where he was declared dead. While police officers claimed a policeman, deployed for Tiwari’s security, was present on the first floor of the house, Singh said he did not see him.
Tiwari hailed from Sitapur. He contested the 2012 assembly election from central Lucknow on the ticket of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha but was defeated.