Umesh Kolhe was killed in Amravati city last month.
An anti-terrorism probe has been ordered into the murder of a chemist in Maharashtra whose throat was slit last month, a week before a similar killing in Udaipur, over supporting suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma's comment on Prophet Mohammad.
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Umesh Kolhe, 54, was attacked and killed by two men on a motorcycle on his way back from work on June 21 in Amravati city.
The police have identified the seven men who were arrested for Kolhe's murder as Shaikh Irfan Shaikh Rahim, 35, Muddasir Ahmad, 22, Shah Rukh Pathan, 25, Abdul Thoufique, 24, Shoaib Khan, 22, and Atib Rashid, 22 and Yusuf Khan Bahadur, 44, all residents of Amravati. The knife used to kill him has also been found.
CCTV footage released by the police showed the attackers following Kolhe around 10 in the night. His 27-year-old son and wife were accompanying him in another vehicle, the police said.
As the local BJP unit in Amravati slammed the cops over the incident, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday transferred the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which is also probing the Udaipur killing.
In the 12 days since the murder, the police arrested six people, but had not linked it to Nupur Sharma's comment until this morning. "The accused have told us that they killed him because of what he posted about Nupur Sharma," senior police officer Vikram Sali said amid mounting pressure.
According to a police officer quoted by news agency PTI, "He had allegedly shared a post on some WhatsApp groups in support of Nupur Sharma for her comments."
Tushar Bhartiya, a BJP leader in the Amravati district, said, "This happened on the 21st [June]. Had it been reported widely on the 22nd, [Udaipur tailor] Kanhaiya [Lal] wouldn't have been killed."
A tailor in Rajasthan's Udaipur, Kanhaiya Lal was killed with a cleaver at his shop by two men who posted videos online saying that they were avenging an insult to Islam on June 28 in an incident that has triggered massive anger.
Like Umesh Kolhe, Kanhaiya Lal too had shared a post online in support of Nupur Sharma, whose remarks on Prophet Mohammad led to nationwide protests and global condemnation.
The BJP had on June 5 suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled Delhi BJP media head Naveen Kumar Jindal after their remarks against the Prophet led to an outrage in India and Gulf countries.