Five days after Hindu Samaj Party leader Kamlesh Tiwari was killed in Lucknow, a strong link of the murder case to Gujarat has emerged. Of the six people arrested in the case so far, five are from Surat. According to police, two accused - Ashfaq Hussain (34) and Moinuddin Pathan (27) - arrested on Tuesday evening from the Rajasthan-Gujarat border - killed the Hindu group leader to avenge certain statements against Prophet Mohammad that he had purportedly made in the past.
The two accused - one of whom was wearing a saffron kurta - met Kamlesh Tiwari at his Lucknow home on October 18 on the pretext of gifting Diwali sweets and discussing political matters. However, once he was inside his home, the accused allegedly slit his throat and shot him before escaping. The victim died despite being rushed to a hospital.
They left behind the sweet box at the murder spot, which had a label of a Surat-based sweet shop and a bill inside it.
UP police sources say Ashfaq, who works at the Surat office of a company that has a pan-India presence, had been impersonating a Hindu colleague since June. He had created social media accounts and even a fake Aadhar card in his name.
Ashfaq allegedly used fake identity to put out social media posts in support of Mr Tiwari. Also, he allegedly joined the Gujarat unit of Mr Tiwari's party. The Lucknow meeting between Tiwari and the alleged killers took place due to political reasons, say police sources.
Police source say they are looking closely at the role of the sixth accused in the case - Syed Asim Ali. He was arrested from Maharashtra's Nagpur on Monday night on the basis of specific inputs. He had allegedly been in contact with some of the accused in the case.
Ali reportedly runs a widely followed YouTube channel where investigators have found threats made in videos against Mr Tiwari in the last two years.
"Pressure from the police was the main reason that the two accused ran from one place to another... be it Bareilly or Shahjahanpur. They weren't able to stay at one place for more than two to four hours, and they couldn't use any electronic devices either," UP top cop OP Singh said.
The Gujarat anti-terrorism squad said that the two accused - both residents of Surat - escaped to the western state after killing the Hindu leader.
"Once their money dried up, the accused called their family members and acquaintances in Surat for assistance. But those close to the two had already been placed under surveillance, and based on that, they were arrested from the Rajasthan-Gujarat border near Shamlaji," a statement released by the state police read.
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