Amid simmering tension over the gruesome killing of a tailor in Rajasthan’s Udaipur for a social media post on Prophet Mohammad, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the murder of a chemist whose throat was slit a week earlier in Maharashtra.
The local BJP unit in Amravati had alleged that 54-year-old Umesh Kolhe’s killing was connected to the Udaipur incident, which is being probed by the central anti-terrorism agency. More than two weeks after the murder and following Amit Shah’s order, the police confirmed the link, releasing CCTV footage of the incident.
MHA has handed over the investigation of the case relating to the barbaric killing of Shri Umesh Kolhe in Amravati Maharashtra on 21st June to NIA.— गृहमंत्री कार्यालय, HMO India (@HMOIndia) July 2, 2022
The conspiracy behind the killing, involvement of organisations and international linkages would be thoroughly investigated.
The assailants slit Kolhe’s throat while he was going home from his shop on June 21. “Six people have been arrested in the case so far. The accused have told us that they killed him because of what he posted about Nupur Sharma,” senior police officer Vikram Sali said.
The statement came after pressure from the BJP. “Umesh Kolhe’s murder is related to the Nupur Sharma controversy. People in the police department also think so. We have learned that the killers have admitted to murdering him because of supporting Nupur Sharma, but the police are trying to cover it up,” Tushar Bhartiya, a BJP leader in Amravati district, had said.
Meanwhile, The Kotwali city police in Amravati arrested a 44-year-old veterinarian in connection with the June 21 murder of Umesh Kolhe (54) who was killed allegedly for circulating a WhatsApp post supporting the controversial comments made by BJP’s Nupur Sharma against Prophet Mohammed.
The sixth accused in the case, Yusuf Khan Bahadur Khan (44), a doctor who runs a clinic in the city, was arrested on Friday night. Confirming the link between Sharma’s comments and Kolhe’s murder, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Amravati) Vikram Sali on Saturday said, “The motive behind the murder is for seeking revenge for the post made by him (Kolhe) in support of Nupur Sharma.”
Explaining Khan’s role in the murder, a police officer said, “Khan had made a post on a WhatsApp group against Kolhe saying he was circulating posts supporting Nupur Sharma. This provoked the accused against Kolhe and they decided to murder him. So, Khan instigated the other accused.”
On Saturday, Khan was produced before a magistrate court which sent him in police custody till July 4. While one accused in the case is still at large, six have been arrested, including two of the three men who arrived on a bike to murder Kolhe.
The murder took place between 10 pm and 10.30 pm on June 21 when Umesh Kolhe was returning home on his scooter after shutting his medical shop. Kolhe’s son Sanket (27) and Sanket’s wife Vaishnavi were travelling on another scooter.
Sanket, who is the complainant in the case, told the police, “We were moving from Prabhat Chowk and our scooters had reached New High School’s gate. Two men on a bike suddenly came in front of my father’s scooter. One of them had a knife in his hand. They stopped my father’s bike and one of them stabbed my father in the neck with the knife. My father fell to the ground and he was bleeding from his neck. I stopped my scooter and started screaming for help. Another man came and the three sat on the bike and fled from the spot.”
With the help of others, Kolhe was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died the same night during treatment. Within 24 hours the Amravati police arrested two men and, based on investigation, three others were subsequently arrested.
The arrested accused are Muddasir Ahmed alias Sonu Raza Shaikh (22), a resident of Bismillah Nagar behind Abuzar mosque, Shahrukh Pathan alias Badshah Hidayat Khan (25), a resident of Sufiyan Nagar, Nanu alias Naufiq Vald Taslim (24) of Lalkhali area near Imam Hussain mosque and Shoaib alias Bhurya Khan, a resident of Chaya Nagar. Shoaib was the one who stabbed Kolhe, the police said.
Mudassir and Shahrukh, who was seen in CCTV footage while conducting recce, were arrested on June 23. Abdul Shoeb the next day and Rashid on June 23.
According to a police officer quoted by a news agency, “Kolhe ran a medical store in Amravati city. He had allegedly shared a post on some WhatsApp groups in support of Nupur Sharma for her comments. He even mistakenly shared the post in a WhatsApp group in which some Muslims were also members, including his customers.”After that, a man named Irfan Khan gathered five others to kill Kohle. He promised to give them ₹ 10,000 and a safe escape in a car, he said.