Five people have been arrested for the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari, the leader of a political party in Uttar Pradesh who was killed at his residence in Lucknow on Friday, OP Singh (Director-General Police, UP), said today. Three of the arrests were made in Gujarat after a joint operation between the police forces of the two states. The two other arrests were those of Muslim clerics from western UP's Bijnor district who had been named in a murder FIR filed by Kamlesh Tiwari's wife. Two other accused, those believed to have carried out the attack, are still on the run.
The men arrested in Gujarat have been identified as Maulana Mohsin Sheikh (24) Rasheed Ahmed Pathan (23) and Faizan (21). The clerics are Maluana Anwar-Ul Haq and Mufti Naeem Kazmin, according to news agency ANI. Police believe Rasheed Pathan was the mastermind, while Faizan purchased the box of sweets the killers used to gain entry into Mr Tiwari's home.
"We were confident we would solve the case in 24 hours and we have done so. Based on clues we formed small teams and fanned out to UP and elsewhere. From the beginning we had a hunch this was related to Gujarat," DGP OP Singh said today, after CCTV footage suggested the box was from a confectionery in Surat.
"We found a sweet box at the incident spot and we found many clues in it. I spoke to the Gujarat DGP and we sent our team there. There was strong coordination between the Gujarat police and us," he continued, adding, "Two other accused who carried out the incident in Lucknow... trying to arrest them soonest".
DGP OP Singh said investigations had ruled out any terror angle and that the main focus of the killing was a defamatory comment Mr Tiwari allegedly made about Prophet Mohammad in 2015. Police earlier said that in 2016 one of the clerics named in the FIR had placed a bounty of Rs 51 lakh on Kamlesh Tiwari's life over that alleged remark.
"During initial interrogation, the accused persons confessed to their involvement in the murder. They had been radicalised and killed the victim for a 2015 speech given by the victim in which he had said some objectionable things," he said.
Responding to news of the arrests, Satyam Tiwari, one of the victim's sons, expressed concern over the UP administration's ability to conduct the investigation.
"I don't know if the men arrested murdered my father or if someone else did and innocent people are being framed. If these are the actual culprits and the police has video evidence, the NIA should take over probe. If they probe and this (the arrests) is proved we will be satisfied. We do not have belief in this administration," he said today.
Earlier, police recovered security footage from outside Kamlesh Tiwari's home. The footage showed two men and a woman carrying a bag containing a box of sweets that police believe hid weapons.
The suspects had claimed the sweets were a Diwali gift for Mr Tiwari and were therefore allowed entry into the house, where they spent 36 minutes. Speaking on Friday, DGP OP Singh said this indicated the killers were known to Mr Tiwari.
One of the men was wearing a saffron kurta and the other a red one, while the woman was wearing a red kurta and white dupatta.
Kamlesh Tiwari, who founded the Hindu Samaj Party in 2017, had been provided with armed security - two gunners - and a guard - by a local police station. On the day of his murder, the gunners were absent. Police say the guard stopped the suspects at the gate and only allowed them through after checking with Mr Tiwari.
On Friday night Mr Tiwari's wife had demanded Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath meet her and the victim's family. She threatened self-immolation if her husband's killers were not brought to justice, according to news agency ANI.
Kamlesh Tiwari, 43, was killed at his residence in the Naka Hindola neighbourhood of Lucknow on Friday afternoon. He had his throat cut and was shot multiple times, and died while being taken to a hospital.
His body was transported to his native place - Mahmudabad in Sitapur district of UP - on Friday night. Family members and supporters staged a protest outside the mortuary.
With input from ANI