On the 18th of October, Hindu activist and leader of the Hindu Samaj Party, Kamlesh Tiwari, was brutally murdered by Jihadis at his residence in Lucknow. He was shot and his throat was slit by the murderers. Since then, the investigation has seen numerous developments and various people have been arrested for their involvement in the murder.
A day after the murder, the Gujarat ATS had nabbed the main conspirators named Rashid Pathan, Faizan Pathan and a Maulvi named Mohsin Sheikh from Surat. They had confessed after an interrogation that they had planned Tiwari’s murder for his 2015 comments on Prophet Muhammad’s sexuality which they considered was ‘blasphemous’.
On October 22, four days after the murder, a team of Gujarat ATS led by DIG ATS Himanshu Shukla nabbed Ashfaq and Moinuddin, the two prime accused in the case from the Gujarat-Rajasthan border. Ashfaqhussain Jakirhussain Shaikh worked as a medical representative in a pharma company and Moinuddin Khurshid Pathan worked as a food delivery boy with Zomato. Ashfaq had forged his colleague’s Aadhaar to pose as Rohit Solanki, a Hindu rights activist, to gain the trust of Tiwari.
The investigation revealed that the Jihadis had checked into a Lucknow hotel where the Police had recovered the Bhagwa clothes that were worn by them. While one CCTV footage of Ashfaq and Moinuddin checking into the Lucknow hotel had emerged, another CCTV footage also emerged, in which one could see that Moinuddin and Ashfaq have changed into their Bhagwa clothes and are leaving the hotel to commit the brutal murder of Kamlesh Tiwari.
One audio recording was also obtained in the process where Ashfaq is heard talking to his wife and father, soon after murdering Kamlesh Tiwari. During the call, the wife seemed perturbed and asked Ashfaq to come back home. His father informed him that they were interrogated by the Gujarat ATS and assured him that he has his family’s support. He also requested him to come home.
During their interrogation in police custody, the Jihadis gave away gory details of the murder and revealed their true intentions. There was no guard present in the office building and Kamlesh Tiwari’s employee, one Saurashtra, did not stop them as Kamlesh Tiwari had informed him earlier that he was expecting some people.
The accused revealed that they did not carry their weapons in a sweet box, instead hid it in their pants. The sweet box, however, had their names written on it. The killers made it clear that hiding their identities was never their intention. Furthermore, they wanted to record the entire incident but could not since they were in a hurry to flee, fearing arrest. The two said that they had left behind traces of evidence and their names on purpose and in fact, they wanted to record the act in order to instil fear in anyone who ‘insulted Islam’.
The postmortem report of Kamlesh Tiwari’s murder revealed that the Hindu leader was stabbed 15 times and was also shot once. The Jihadis had stabbed him in the upper part of the body from jaws to the chest. The wounds were inflicted within 10 centimetres of each other. The report also suggested that there were two deep cut marks on the neck which pointed at an attempt to slit his throat.
A cleric, Sayyed Kaifi Ali, was arrested by the ATS on Tuesday on charges of helping the accused. As per reports, the maulana was arrested after a long interrogation under Section 216 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It is believed that the killers, namely Ashfaq and Moinuddin, had visited the cleric in Bareilly after they killed Tiwari in Lucknow on October 18.
A Delhi-based lawyer, Mohammad Naved Siddiqui, has also been arrested from Bareilly in connection with the murder. He was arrested after it was revealed that he had harboured the two killers of Tiwari and had helped them cross the border into Nepal. As per reports, Siddiqui is associated with the Bareilly-based Islamic shrine and is registered to practise at the Delhi High Court. He had reportedly harboured Ashfaq and Moinuddin and had personally taken them to the Nepal border near Lakhimpur-Kheri’s Gauri Fanta.
The crime cut across state boundaries. The Police of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh conducted investigations of their own and unearthed the trail behind the entire conspiracy and are continuing to do so. The most shocking aspect of it all was that the murderers received help wherever they went. On the 21st of October, the Maharashtra ATS nabbed one Sayyad Asim Ali from Nagpur who is believed to be a key player in the murder.
Asim Ali had contested 2019 Lok Sabha elections against BJP’s Nitin Gadkari and last year had uploaded a video where he had given a veiled threat to Tiwari stating that his days are numbered. Accusing Tiwari of blasphemy for announcing a movie ‘Rangeela Rasul’ on the life of Prophet Muhammad, Asim had said that no one should forget the sharp blade of Ibn Din, the Jihadi who stabbed the publisher of the book Rangeela Rasul back in the 1920s.
Meanwhile, the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind of the Deobandi school of thought has extended legal and financial aid to the Jihadis accused in the Kamlesh Tiwari murder. The Muslim Council has said that it is willing to bear all the legal costs and also offered the help of their legal cell to defend the five accused in the Kamlesh Tiwari murder.
The five accused are Asfaq, Moinuddin, Maulana Mohsin Shaikh, Faizan Shaikh and Rashid. 3 more people, Sayed Kaifi Ali, Asim Ali and Naved Siddiqui the lawyer have also been arrested. All the arrested are currently in the custody of Lucknow Police. Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind had met the family members of those arrested and asked them about the help they would need in the proceedings. The family members reportedly told them that they required legal and financial assistance.
Following the murder, there was an upsurge of collective anger on social media. The Uttar Pradesh Police have lodged as many as 32 FIRs between 20-23 October for spreading ‘hateful messages’ on social media platforms, following the murder on the 18th. The police added that they had also initiated the process to block 178 social media accounts.
Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh had registered an FIR against ‘journalist’ Ali Sohrab for spewing venom against Hindus after the brutal murder. Sohrab had posted a tweet expressing delight. In his tweet, Ali Sohrab went on to wish the deceased Kamlesh Tiwari on the occasion of Diwali despite knowing that he is not alive anymore. Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, the Mahant of Dasna Devi Mandir, was also booked by UP police for an alleged hate speech after meeting the family of Kamlesh Tiwari in Sitapur.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had met the anguished family of Kamlesh Tiwari on October 20 and heard their demands. Yogi Adityanath had then assured the grieving wife of former Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari that after the completion of the investigation, the culprits will be hanged to death.
Soon after, his government announced an ex gratia amount of Rs 15 lakhs to be granted to the family along with a new house in Mahmudabad Tehsil.