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Witness in Umesh Kolhe murder case receives threats from Islamists for extending support to Nupur Sharma, a Muslim ‘friend’ suspected to have tipped them off

The witness stated in his testimony that he also received a call from a 'friend' called Adil who inquired about the post.

On Tuesday, one of the witnesses of the Umesh Kolhe murder case revealed that he was being threatened after he extended support to former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma over social media. The witness, who runs an electronic goods shop said that he had posted a WhatsApp message supporting Nupur Sharma but soon deleted it as he felt that it would lead to a huge controversy.

He said that though he had deleted the message, six people had already seen it, following which he started getting threatening calls from unknown numbers. He also said that the people issuing death threats asked him to apologise through a video.

The witness stated in his testimony that he also received a call from a ‘friend’ named Adil who inquired about the post. He explained that he had erased the message and had no malicious intent. After some time, another of his friends texted him a screenshot of his photo and store details with the words ‘Boycott’ written on it and asked him why they were calling for him and his shop to be shunned.

The witness indicated that he got calls from unidentified people demanding that he record a 30-second apologetic video or they would come to his house. Later, he learned that another Amravati businessman had been intimidated by the Muslim community for his Facebook post in favor of Nupur Sharma.

Reports mention that three more residents of Amravati namely Shreegopal Chandulal Rathi, Vishal Rajesh Bahad, and Jai Kumar Achhada were also threatened by radicalized Islamists for extending support to Sharma before Kolhe was killed.

Rathi shared a message and a photo in support of Sharma on his WhatsApp status on June 9. He received a call from an unknown number, and the caller identified himself as Razique Baig from the Rehebar Helpline. The aforementioned exchange was then made viral on social media. He received multiple threat calls and was ordered to produce a video apologising for his post and was encouraged to share it on social media. Rathi was then granted police protection.

On June 10, the proprietor of a mobile repair shop shared a status message on WhatsApp in favor of Sharma, but it was quickly deleted. However, the message went viral over social media platforms following which he received several threats from Mudassir Ahmed, Shakeel Shaikh, and other accused arrested in Kolhe’s murder.

On June 12, one Bahad wrote a comment on social media in favor of Sharma and was threatened by Mudassir, a frightened Bahad fled the city and reappeared only after 15 days.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday revealed that the 11 accused who murdered Amravati-based pharmacist Umesh Kolhe were radicalized members of Tablighi Jamaat. The officials also said that the accused were persuaded by two ‘social activists’ identified as Irfan Khan and Maulavi Mushfique Ahmad.

Those named in the NIA charge sheet are Mubashir Ahmed, Shahrukh Khan, Abdul Tausheef Sheikh, Mohd Shoeb, Atib Rashid, Yusuf Khan, Irfan Khan, Abdul Arbaz, Musfeeq Ahmed, Sheikh Shakeel, and Shahim Ahmed.

Umesh Kolhe was murdered by Islamists on June 21 for extending his support to beleaguered politician Nupur Sharma, who drew the ire of Muslim fundamentalists after Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair painted a target on her back for defending her faith in a news debate.

According to the chargesheet, the 11 accused hatched a conspiracy, acquired the murder weapon, plotted their strategy so that the pharmacist’s whereabouts could be traced, and then premeditatedly killed him. The NIA in the chargesheet also mentioned that the 11 accused were highly influenced by the Islamist ideology and believed in, “Gustakh -E- Nabi Ki Aik Saza, Sar Tan Se Juda.’

On July 2 this year, the NIA re-registered the case and took over the investigation. The case has been registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) Sections 16, 18, and 20 and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 34, 153 (A), 153 (B), 120 (B), and 302.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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