Amravati pharmacist's killing: Special court in Mumbai sends seven accused in NIA custody till July 15

Umesh Kolhe was killed on June 21 by two motorcycle-borne men by slitting his throat, allegedly for supporting now sacked BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, who made objectionable remarks against Prophet Mohammad.

Bhavna UchilUpdated: Thursday, July 07, 2022, 11:33 PM IST
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Umesh Kolhe, the chemist who was murdered | Twitter

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday told a special court that the killing of Amravati chemist Umesh Kolhe is not just a case of murder and it is about terrorizing people.

The pharmacist was stabbed by two men on June 21 in Amravati when he was returning home after closing his store. Kolhe had forwarded messages that were in favour of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma who had made controversial remarks on Prophet Muhammad. The NIA took over the case from the local police which had made further arrests. The incident took place a week before the killing of a tailor Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur on June 28.

The agency has invoked provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) - Sec 16 (Punishment for terrorist activities), Sec 18 (punishment for conspiracy) and Sec 20 (Punishment for being a member of a terrorist gang or organization), it informed the court.

The NIA brought the seven men to court in black hoods and handcuffed them. Their hoods were removed in court and handcuffs were released before they were produced inside the courtroom. The accused - Irfan Khan, 35, Dr. Yusuf Khan, 44, Mudassir Ahmed, 22, Shahrukh Pathan, 25, Abdul Taufiq, 24, Atib Rashid, 22 and Shoaib Khan, 22 were produced before Special NIA judge AK Lahoti around 5.45 pm on Thursday. The agency sought their custody for 15 days for interrogation. It said that initially it was thought that the incident was murder, but it is now revealed that there is no previous enmity between Kolhe and the accused. It said there is a deep-rooted conspiracy on the basis of prima facie evidence. The NIA further told the court that the central government is aware of the matter and its seriousness. The prosecution, without specifying the Udaipur incident, said a similar incident had happened and there are more persons they suspect and leads they want to probe not limited to Amravati.

Opposing the NIA’s plea, advocate Kaashif Ali Khan Deshmukh appearing for three of the seven accused, argued that the prosecution has failed to show that a terrorist group is involved and just to make it a terror case, the UAPA is invoked.

Defence advocate Sharif Shaikh appearing for the other accused argued what grounds the NIA has shown for invoking the provision of the UAPA pertaining to terrorist activities. He asked if it is the NIA’s case that the accused are part of any banned terrorist organization listed under the anti-terror law.

Judge Lahoti granted the custody of the accused to the agency till July 15 in an order passed around 7 pm.

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