The National investigation Agency (NIA) said radical Islamists of the Tablighi Jamaat killed Amravati chemist Umesh Kolhe to avenge the purported dishonour to the prophet Muhammad and to strike terror among supporters of former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, who had made some objectionable remarks about him.
For this, the suspects formed a terrorist gang in which the main conspirators were a 41-year-old maulana and a 35-year-old estate agent, the NIA said in its charge sheet.
The Tablighi Jamaat is an Islamic missionary movement that encourages members to practise the religion in strict accordance with the teachings of the prophet. Maulana Mehmood Dariyabadi of the sect called the NIA’s allegations wrong. The NIA filed the charge sheet against 11 persons on Saturday.
Umesh Kolhe was murdered for supporting Nupur Sharma
Mr Kolhe, 54, was killed on June 6 while returning home after closing his store in Amravati. Three bike-borne assailants stabbed him in the neck. The chemist had made a WhatsApp post expressing support for Ms Sharma, then in the eye of an international storm.
NIA chargesheet says his killing was meant to strike terror
The act, apart from revenge, was meant to “strike terror in the hearts and minds of the general population” who supported Ms Sharma’s statement, the charge sheet said.
Mr Kolhe had no dispute or previous enmity with any of the suspects, the NIA said. It said the act was not a simple murder but an act of terror and a conspiracy by radicalised youth. The agency described Mr Kolhe as a law-abiding citizen who “exercised his right to free speech in a free country”.
After the incident, it said, communal clashes broke out in Udaipur, Hyderabad and in parts of Maharashtra. Mentioning five FIRs, it said that in all cases the same ideology was at play.
The NIA has invoked provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against the 11 accused. On the brutality of the act that made it a terrorist act, the agency’s charge sheet said a father was murdered in front of his son, under the open sky, in a public space, with proper planning and celebration after the act. It said there was an abortive attempt by four of the suspects on Mr Kolhe’s life a day earlier.
Names Maulana as 'one of the masterminds'
The agency has called estate agent Irfan Khan, 35, and Mushfique Ahmed, 41, the main conspirators. The maulana, the agency said, created a WhatsApp group titled ‘Meeting only’ in the backdrop of the Nupur Sharma row, with him and Mr Khan as administrators, and appealed to the other suspects for coercive action against Ms Sharma and her supporters.
Calling the maulana “one of the masterminds”, it said he supervised the chain of events. He also provided funds to two suspects through two others to flee Amravati and evade arrest. It alleged that he also gave shelter to Mr Khan and another suspect after the murder.
Mr Khan, the NIA’s charge sheet said, attended the first meeting with three suspects where they decided to kill Mr Kolhe. Mr Khan, it said, executed the conspiracy under the maulana’s guidance. He also arranged the logistics and food after the murder when he also called up the maulana.
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