Two of the suspects in the murder of former Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari, who are still absconding, have been traced to Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, reports said on Sunday. Six people have been arrested so far from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, in connection with the incident.
The two on the run, who have been identified as Ashfaq and Moinuddin, are suspected to be the ones who shot Tiwari after entering his house on the pretext of delivering a box of sweets, India Today reported. The suspects are believed to have been known to Tiwari.
Forty-five-year-old Tiwari, leader of the lesser-known Hindu Samaj Party (HSP) who was earlier associated with a faction of the Hindu Mahasabha, was killed in his residence on Friday. On Sunday, his family is likely to meet Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who has announced that "none of the culprits will be spared", amid the deteriorating condition of law and order in the state.
A joint team of the Uttar Pradesh Police and Gujarat ATS arrested five people in Bijnor and Surat, while the sixth arrest was made by the Maharashtra ATS in Nagpur on Saturday.
Stating that the police was "confident" of solving the case "within 24 hours", Singh said that the suspects " three of whom are Muslim clerics " were "radicalised" and appeared to have targetted Tiwari for inflammatory remarks made against Prophet Mohammad in 2015. NDTV on Sunday reported that police have spoken to the woman seen in CCTV footage outside Tiwari's house, which is a key lead in the case. They have ruled out her involvement in the murder.
The arrested suspects have been identified as Mohammed Mufti Naeem Kazmi and Imam Maulana Anwarul Haq in Bijnor; Faizan Yunus Bhai, Maulana Mohsin Sheikh, and Rashid Ahmed Khursheed Ahmed Pathan in Surat, and Sayed Asim Ali in Nagpur, PTI reported. However, the report said that the five in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh had been 'detained'.
After the initial arrests, Singh said, "We were confident we would solve the case in 24 hours and we have done so. Based on clues we formed small teams and fanned out to Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere. From the beginning we had a hunch this was related to Gujarat." He also said that the police has ruled out a terror angle.
Reportedly, one of the suspects had, in 2016, placed a bounty of Rs 51 lakh on Tiwari's life over the alleged blasphemous remark.
Responding to the arrests, one of Tiwari's sons said that the case should be probed by the NIA instead of the Uttar Pradesh Police. Satyam was quoted by NDTV as saying, "I don't know if the men arrested murdered my father or if someone else did and innocent people are being framed. If these are the actual culprits and the police has video evidence, the NIA should take over probe. If they probe and this (the arrests) is proved we will be satisfied. We do not believe in this administration."
He added, "My father was killed although he had security guards, how can we possibly trust the administration then?" According to PTI, Tiwari's mother Kusuma alleged that he was killed by a "local BJP leader" due to a temple dispute in a village.
On Saturday, Singh said that Uttar Pradesh Police and their Gujarat counterparts were interrogating the suspects. Elaborating on the arrest of the three persons in Surat, the DGP said, "On the basis of a packet of sweets obtained from the crime spot, the Gujarat Police was contacted and a team was sent there. A CCTV footage of a Surat-based sweets shop was examined and Faizan Yunus
Bhai was identified." He said later Sheikh and Pathan were detained.
"Going by investigation and joint interrogation, it was clear that these three persons were part of the conspiracy to murder Kamlesh Tiwari," Singh said.
With inputs from agencies