A team of Uttar Pradesh Police has arrested three persons from Surat in connection with the murder of former Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) leader Kamlesh Tiwari, who was also an appellant in the Ayodhya case.
On Friday, seven persons were detained by the Gujarat Anti-Terror Squad for questioning following leads from the UP Police. Of the seven detained, four are from Surat and three from Ahmedabad. Of the four detentions in Surat, three are from Limbayat area.
The UP police probing the murder of Tiwari, found a box of sweets at the crime spot that had a Surat address. Sources said the sweets were purchased from Dharti Farsan shop situated in Navsari Bazaar area in Surat.
The crime branch of Surat contacted the shop owner and questioned him about possible suspected customers.
The crime branch officials also collected CCTV footage of the shop from the owner and are analysing it. Sources said that the Surat crime branch has also begun questioning some of the suspected youths.
The UP Police are also looking into a Gujarat police chargesheet from two years ago. Alleged IS operatives Kasim Stimberwala and Obaid Mirza, arrested in October 2017, had earlier revealed to the Gujarat cops their plans to kill Tiwari.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Gujarat ATS DIG Himanshu Shukla said, “In the chargesheet, it is mentioned that Kasim and Obaid had confessed to police that they had planned to kill Kamlesh Tiwari because he had allegedly made objectionable remarks about the Prophet. On October 26, 2017, Gujarat ATS sleuths arrested the two suspected IS operatives from different parts of the city.”
Stimberwala and Mirza are still in judicial custody at Sabarmati Jail in Ahmedabad. Sources said Mirza was a lawyer working while Simberwala did the petty job.
Meanwhile, taking responsibility for Tiwari’s murder, the Al-Hind Brigade had sent a WhatsApp message blaming Kamlesh for “defaming Islam and Muslims.” The message, which also carried a photograph Tiwari, read, “Kamlesh Tiwari was a nuisance and whosoever points fingers towards Islam and Muslims, will meet same end. Al-Hind Brigade takes responsibility. Get ready to see more. The war has begun.” The authenticity of the claim could not immediately be verified.
Tiwari, who had appealed on behalf of the organisation in the Ayodhya case before the Supreme Court, was killed Friday at his Lucknow home. According to CCTV footage, two youths were seen entering his house on Friday noon.
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. An SIT has been formed to probe the murder.
A pistol and an empty cartridge, recovered from the spot, are being analysed. 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.”
Ruling out any terror angle, UP DGP Om Prakash Singh said that the murder was a radical killing. “All three people are being interrogated by the police. We are collecting evidence in the case,” he said.
Singh also said that a police team UP is currently in Gujarat and if needed they would bring the detained people to UP for further questioning, adding that it appears that they were involved in the murder of Tiwari.
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.
(With inputs from Manish Sahu)