Irfan Sheikh, the alleged mastermind of chemist Umesh Kolhe's murder in Maharashtra's Amravati.
A motorcycle and Rs 10,000 — that's what the killers got to carry out the murder of chemist Umesh Kolhe in Maharashtra's Amravati over a social media post, police said today.
The police also said they knew that the June 21 murder was linked with the victim's social media post supporting the since-suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma, whose comments on Prophet Mohammed and Islam had angered people in India and abroad. "But we did not reveal that link due to the very sensitive nature of the case," police commissioner Arti Singh said at a press conference.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah ordered the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take over the case around 10 days after the murder as the local BJP unit accused the police of trying to conceal the real reasons for political reasons. Local BJP MP Navneet Kaur Rana pointedly questioned the then state government led by Uddhav Thackeray. Now, after a political upheaval of two weeks, her party is in power in the state. The new Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde, has said the killing is a "national issue".
The commissioner rebutted the allegations that the police were slow until the NIA takeover was announced. "The MP (Navneet Kaur Rana) is making false allegations," she said, "because I had registered a case of attempt to murder against her husband Ravi Rana some days ago."
Umesh Kolhe, 54, was killed with knives by two men on a motorcycle when he was on his way back home. This was a week before a similar killing in Udaipur, Rajasthan.
So far, seven accused, including the alleged mastermind Irfan Shaikh Rahim, have been arrested while search is on for one more. It was Irfan Shaikh who gave the five killers money and the bike, the police said. The case will be formally handed over to the NIA "in a day or two".
Three other people received threats over similar social media posts, the commissioner further said. "But only one person filed a complaint; the other two aren't willing to come forward."