A day after arresting Ashfaq Hussain Shaikh (34) and Farid, alias Moinuddin Khurshid Pathan (27), prime accused in the murder of former working president of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, Kamlesh Tiwari, in Lucknow, the Gujarat ATS on Wednesday said that a bullet had hit Moinuddin’s hand after Ashfaq missed the target while shooting Tiwari.
Sources in Uttar Pradesh Police, which got three days’ transit remand of the duo from a Surat court on Wednesday, also said that Ashfaq and Moinuddin were regularly trying to surrender after the murder.
“As per their plan, Syed Asim Ali, who was later arrested from Nagpur, was to arrange their surrender. After Ali’s arrest, however, the two did not get any direction on the next course of action and decided to return to Gujarat,” a UP Police officer involved in the investigation said.
Ashfaq and Moinuddin were arrested near Shamlaji, a temple town on Gujarat-Rajasthan border, on Tuesday.
After a misfire by Ashfaq injured his hand, DIG (Gujarat ATS) Himanshu Shukla told the media in Surat on Wednesday, “Moinuddin tied a handkerchief on his hand and later slit Tiwari’s throat. The duo then fled to their hotel (in Lucknow), where Ashfaq, who works as a medical representative, dressed Moinuddin’s injured hand.”
Gujarat ATS is now looking for the person who supplied them with the pistol used to kill Tiwari. “We have got the name of the accused who had given the pistol to Ashfaq. Our teams reached the suspect’s house but he has gone underground. We will arrest him,” Deputy SP (Gujarat ATS) K K Patel said.
Investigators said Ashfaq and Moinuddin travelled across three states — UP, Delhi and Rajasthan — and also went to Nepal. They reportedly covered around 2,000 km on trains, buses, taxi and also took lift in a truck before they were arrested near Shamlaji in Gujarat.
The UP Police officer said: “After the murder they went to Bareilly and spent a night at the railway station there. Then they moved to Lakhimpur Kheri, and from there to Nepal. After returning from Nepal, the two returned to Lakhimpur Kheri and went to Shahjahanpur. After some time there, the assailants moved to Delhi, and subsequently to Ajmer. From there, they went to Shamlaji on Gujrat-Rajasthan border, where they were arrested.”
According to the investigators, Ashfaq and Moinuddin were caught after they ran out of money and approached their family and acquaintances for financial help. “They were carrying around Rs 20,000 when they left their hometown, Surat, for Lucknow on October 17, a day before the murder. In the last four days, they spent almost all that money,” an officer said.
Five people have so far been arrested in connection with Tiwari’s killing. Rashid Pathan, Faizan Sheikh and Maulana Mohsin Sheikh, who were arrested from Surat, are currently in custody of UP Police.
On Wednesday, Asim Ali was produced before a local court of Lucknow which sent him to three days in police remand. A video doing the rounds on social media shows him purportedly abusing Tiwari for making a film on the Prophet and threatening to kill him.
Police said that apart from Tiwari’s statement against the Prophet in 2015, another factor that instigated the assailants was his plan to make a film, Rangeela Rasool, allegedly showing the Prophet in a bad light.
DIG Shukla of Gujarat ATS said, “That is also one of the factors (that led the suspects to murder Tiwari).”