The Gujarat Anti-Terrorism squad arrested from the Gujarat-Rajasthan border on Tuesday evening two men, Ashfaq Hussain Sheikh and Moinuddin Pathan, who allegedly shot and knifed Hindu leader Kamlesh Tiwari on October 18 and had been on the run since.
Tiwari, a former Hindu Mahasabha leader, ran his own organisation Hindu Samaj Party (HSP). Police in several states had been on the trail of the killers, and also the conspirators in the case.
“Ashfaq Sheikh and Moinuddin Pathan have been arrested from Shamlaji near Gujarat-Rajasthan border,” said Gujarat ATS DIG Himanshu Shukla.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Uttar Pradesh police detained three persons, including a Bareilly-based cleric Maulana Kaifi Ali, for allegedly helping the two killers of Tiwari in Lucknow on October 18. UP ATS officials said the two visited Ali after they killed Tiwari.
The police also questioned the driver (Tauhid Ahmed) and owner (Rajkumar) of the taxi the killers are believed to have hired on October 19 in their bid to cross over to Nepal from Shahjanpur.
A senior ATS officer said the three have been taken into custody by the state police and brought to Lucknow for questioning.
ATS officials said Ali facilitated the treatment of Pathan who suffered injuries to his right hand while attacking Tiwari with a knife at a private hospital in Bareilly on the night of October 18. Following this, they returned to Lakhimpur Kheri with a plan to sneak into Nepal from the Gauri Fanta area on the India-Nepal border, the ATS officer said.
They returned after seeing heavy police presence, this person added. Quoting the statement of the driver, Tauhid Ahmed, the officer said the two left the car near Shahjahanpur railway station on the midnight of October 20. They were seen entering a hotel near Shahjahanpur railway station around 12.02 am on Sunday night.
In addition to Tuesday’s arrests, six people have been arrested in the case, three from Surat — Rashid Pathan, his brother Faizan Pathan and their neighbour Maullana Salim Shiekh — two Bijnor residents, Mohammed Mufti Naeem Kazmi and Imam Maulana Anwarul Haq, and a Nagpur man, Syed Asim Ali.
Ali was brought to Lucknow on Tuesday on transit remand from Nagpur.
The ATS officer said a person, who was in touch with the three alleged conspirators arrested in Surat, Gujarat on October 19, was being questioned by Karnataka police in Bengaluru. His identity was not disclosed by the police.
Tiwari was murdered on October 18 by the two killers who entered his residence-cum-office at Lucknow’s Khurshed Bagh locality. The killers were wearing saffron kurtas and posed as Hindu activists. The motive for the murder isn’t clear but police suspect it may have to do with Tiwari’s comments on the Prophet Mohammed in 2015, which prompted death threats from fundamentalist Muslim groups, and over which he spent around a year in jail.
Police have recovered the kurtas from a hotel in Lucknow where the two were staying.
Shaikh, according to ATS officials, impersonated his colleague Rohit Solanki using details of the latter’s Aadhaar to join Tiwari’s Hindu Samaj Party (HSP). Shaikh had replaced Solanki’s photo on the latter’s Aadhaar card with his own and also changed the birth date, Solanki told reporters on Tuesday.
“I used work as a medical representative for a pharma company and Ashfaq Shaikh was my immediate senior. Since he was the area manager, I submitted a copy my Aadhaar card to him to complete the joining formalities as per the company policy. Now I have learnt that he forged the Aadhaar card to assume my identity,” Solanki said.
On the basis of the forged Aadhaar, Shaikh was inducted into the HSP by its Gujarat unit president Jaimin Dave, who said he was “not aware of the original identity of Shaikh“. Shaikh was inducted into the HSP in June 2019 and was appointed as a pracharak of the party’s IT cell for Varachha ward in Surat, Dave said.
Source from HT media