- Kamlesh Tiwari, leader of a political group, killed in Lucknow
- Two men seen on CCTV identified as possible suspects
- At least five people arrested in connection with the killing
Uttar Pradesh Police believe they have found clothes matching the description of those worn by two male suspects in the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari, the leader of a political group in the state who was killed at his residence in Lucknow on Friday. The clothes, and a few other bags, were recovered from a hotel near Mr Tiwari's residence. Police believe the killers checked into the hotel with their real addresses a night before the killing and came back after the murder to dump their clothes before leaving.
Security camera footage from the hotel shows the alleged killers checking in on Thursday night and leaving on Friday morning, dressed in kurtas and carrying a yellow bag that may have contained the box of sweets allegedly purchased from Surat in Gujarat to help gain admission into Mr Tiwari's home.
Police sources also said the suspects, who were captured on CCTV footage from outside Mr Tiwari's home, travelled from Gujarat to Kanpur, which is about 70 kilometres from Lucknow, by train. They then took another train, or a car, to reach the UP capital. Their last-known location, sources added, is somewhere in the National Capital Region. They are still at large
Speaking to reporters on Saturday night, OP Singh, Director-General of Police (UP) said the state had reached out to Anti-Terrorism Squads in Gujarat and Maharashtra to follow up on more clues and evidence. He also said that the woman seen in the CCTV footage mentioned above had been questioned.
She had been listed as a possible suspect but police now believe she is not involved. According to sources in the police, she said the men stopped her to ask for directions.
"We have contacted Gujarat and Maharashtra ATS. Our team has also spoken to the woman who was seen in the CCTV footage. All aspects of the case are being probed," OP Singh, Director-General of Police (UP), told reporters on Saturday night.
Mr Tiwari's family met Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at his office in Lucknow today and demanded capital punishment for his killers. The Chief Minister, who earlier called the killing "an act of mischief to create terror", assured them of justice.
On Saturday Kamlesh Tiwari's mother and son spoke out against the investigation into his death, with his mother alleging her son was killed by a local politician over a land dispute and his son demanding the case be handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Samajwadi Party chief and former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has hit out at the BJP-led government in the state, claiming it had failed to protect Kamlesh Tiwari and created a crime-friendly environment.
"How can they prevent it (the murder) when the Chief Minister himself says -- if you want to keep the system in order, do not hesitate to kill. And he trained people to kill in such a way that neither people nor the police know whom to shoot," Mr Yadav said.
The UP government has made headlines in recent weeks and months over its attempts to solve a series of high-profile crimes, including the Unnao rape case and accusations of sexual assault against BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand.
Mr Tiwari 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 said the guard stopped the suspects, who claimed they wanted to give Mr Tiwari the box of sweets - a Diwali gift - and only allowed them through after checking with the victim.
On Saturday, DGP OP Singh announced the arrest of five people in connection with the killing.
Three were arrested in Gujarat after a joint operation between police of the two states. The two others are Muslim clerics from western UP's Bijnor district who had been named in a First Information Report (FIR) filed by Kamlesh Tiwari's wife. One of the clerics had placed a Rs 51 lakh bounty on Mr Tiwari's life in 2016 after the politician allegedly made a derogatory remark about Prophet Mohammad the year before.
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 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.
A sixth person has been arrested by ATS in Maharashtra, according to news agency PTI. Identified as 29-year-old Sayed Asim Ali, state police said he had organised a protest against Mr Tiwari in the past and had threatened him via a YouTube video.
With input from ANI, PTI