Uneasy calm prevails in Amravati, even as the investigation into the murder of Umesh Kolhe, a pharmacist, unravelling the functioning of Islamist in the region. The police recently arrested the mastermind and seventh accused in connection with the murder.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said his Government has taken the issue very seriously. He said, “Amravati incident is very serious, killing is barbaric. Accused, mastermind nabbed. NIA investigating it, finding if there is some international connection. This was initially portrayed as theft… that too will be investigated.”
The police role in misleading the investigation has also come into the fore. The police are accused of deliberately describing the hate crime as a robbery killing and concealing that the reason for the murder was posts in support of Nupur Sharma, while the Maharashtra ATS was already investigating the case from the terror angle. Police had claimed that it was a robbery case that has gone wrong, as the accused had killed Kolhe after he refused to give them anything. But this claim was questioned by many, including Maharashtra BJP leaders, because the accused have no past crime records, and they didn’t take anything from Kolhe after attacking him. Umesh Kolhe was carrying around Rs 3,000 in cash and had his phone with him, which were found intact at the crime scene.
With the change in Government, the police have intensified the investigation. The accused has been identified as Shaikh Irfan Shaikh Rahim. “Police have arrested the seventh accused and the mastermind in connection to Umesh Kolhe murder case,” said Police Inspector, City Kotwali PS (Amravati), Nilima Araj.
Investigators so far believe that Kolhe was killed in retaliation for a social media post supporting BJP’s Nupur Sharma who had made controversial comments on the Prophet in a television debate. Meanwhile, police managed to lay hands on audio clips which revealed the gangs involved in threatening Hindus who supported Nupur Sharma, the expelled BJP leader.
Exactly a week before tailor Kanhaiya Lal was hacked to death in Udaipur, Umesh Prahladrao Kolhe, a 54-year-old chemist, was killed in Maharashtra’s Amravati district on June 21. Initial investigation by the City Kotwali Police Station in Amravati following a complaint by Umesh Kohle’s son Sanket Kohle led them to arrest two persons – Mudassir Ahmad, 22, and Shahrukh Pathan, 25, on June 23.
Their interrogation revealed the involvement of four more persons, of which three — Abdul Tawfiq, 24, Shoaib Khan, 22, and Atib Rashid, 22 — were arrested on June 25, while one was absconding.
It is revealed in the police investigation that Dr Yusuf Khan, the eldest of the arrested accused instigated all the murderers for this murder. Dr Khan was a good friend of Umesh Kolhe who had helped him many times. Dr Khan was the admin of the WhatsApp group in which Umesh Kolhe had shared a post supporting former Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma, which led to his murder.
Kolhe’s murderers were all closely related, as several of them worked with an NGO run by the key conspirator Sheikh Irfan, who has been identified as the mastermind behind the crime.
Veterinary doctor Yusuf Khan and chemist Umesh Kolhe knew each other for the past several years, and they were good friends. Yusuf Khan often sought help from Umesh Kolhe who seldom disappointed his friend. He used to lend money to Yusuf Khan in hours of need. Umesh Kolhe had helped Dr Yusuf Khan at the time of his sister’s wedding and his children’s admissions too. Despite such good relations, Dr Yusuf Khan conspired to kill Umesh Kolhe.
Dr Khan is the eldest among the arrested accused. He was supposed to keep a watch on viral messages on social media and identify the targets. He was the admin of the group called Black Freedom in which Umesh Kolhe had shared a post supporting Nupur Sharma. Dr Yusuf Khan shared this information with another group called Rahebariya and informed his friends Sheikh Irrfan and others, and created hatred in their minds for Umesh Kolhe.
Earlier, Union Home Minister Amit Shah directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take over the probe into the brutal killing of Maharashtra’s Amravati-based shop owner Umesh Kolhe on June 21, after he wrote a post in support of Nupur Sharma on Facebook.
Home Minister’s Office (HMO) made the announcement through its Twitter handle as the matter was similar to the Udaipur case in which a tailor Kanhaiya Lal was killed in broad daylight by two men.
“MHA has handed over the investigation of the case relating to the barbaric killing of Shri Umesh Kolhe in Amravati Maharashtra on June 21 to NIA,” HMO India tweeted. In the tweet, it is directed that “the conspiracy behind the killing, involvement of organisations and international linkages would be thoroughly investigated”.
Dr Khan was a good friend of Umesh Kolhe who had helped him many times. Dr Khan was the admin of the WhatsApp group in which Umesh Kolhe had shared a post supporting former Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma, which led to his murder. Kolhe’s murderers were all closely related, as several of them worked with an NGO run by the key conspirator Sheikh Irfan, who has been identified as the mastermind behind the crime.
After Dr Yusuf Khan spread hatred against Umesh Kolhe, Sheikh Irfan came into action. He planned the murder. He gave the responsibility of recce to Maulana Mudassir Ahmed alias Sonu Raza Sheikh Ibrahim. After this, Sheikh Irfan involved daily wage workers in this plan. They included Shahrukh Pathan (age 25), Abdul Tawfiq (age 24), Shoaib Khan alias Bhurya (age 22), and Atib Rashid (age 22). On the night of June 21, Shoaib stabbed Umesh Kolhe in his neck. None of these four criminals has any past criminal record.
Irfan resides in the Pathan Chowk chawl in the Kamela Area. His neighbours said that he was a welder but the epidemic caused problems for his welding business. Irfan runs a registered NGO called Rahebar that worked for differently-abled according to its Facebook page. The four daily wage workers he chose to execute the murder had previously volunteered for this NGO.
Irfan’s neighbours said that he had became “extremely religious” recently and took up social activities about seven years ago. Additionally, he is alleged to have backed the anti-CAA demonstrations. Irfan, a school dropout, lived with his mother, younger brother, wife, two boys, one of whom is differently-abled, and a daughter. His residence has been locked for about a week.
A police source said, “I knew him well. He would come to the police station with public issues. He has a petty assault case against him; he was also detained for questioning when he helped his friend to elope with a girl from another community.”
‘Loose Tongue’ Diatribe Inspires Islamist to Announce Rs 2-cr Bounty
Close on the heels of Ajmer Sharif Dargah khadim Salman Chishti announcing bounty for killing Nupur Sharma through video, another Islamist in Mewat has declared that he will give Rs 2 crore to anyone who slits Nupur Sharma’s tongue. This incident took place days after the Supreme Court judges said that Nupur Sharma’s ‘loose’ tongue is responsible for the communal disharmony in the country and Kanhaiya Lal’s beheading by Islamists in Udaipur.
In the video that went viral on July 6, the Islamist said, “I am giving this on behalf of the whole Mewat. If somebody slits Nupur Sharma’s tongue and brings it to me, the offer is Rs 2 crore for the one who does so. I will give it on behalf of the whole Mewat. And if you slit her tongue, you journalist, I will give you Rs 2 crore. You get this offer.”
Police have said that they are aware of the video and they are looking into the matter. Nuh Superintendent of Police Varun Singla said, “The matter has just reached us. We are investigating to identify the accused. We appeal to people to not spread such videos and communal content.”
It is notable that these comments by the Islamist seen in the video have come after the Supreme Court, on July 1, blamed former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for the brutal Udaipur murder and has stated that her ‘loose tongue’ has set the entire country on fire and she should apologize to the whole country. — Organiser Bureau
The police said the arrested accused Mudassir Shaikh and Abdul Tawfiq Taslim were also ‘very religious’. A source said, “Abdul was short-tempered. A few years ago, he went to the Nagpuri Gate police station in the middle of the night, demanding that an FIR be registered against a Facebook post for hurting religious sentiments. After the chemist’s murder, he bragged to others that he had killed the man who insulted the Prophet. Police got their first lead from this.”
After the murder, when the police started the investigation, they got some CCTV footage before the incident. In the video, three accused dressed in black are seen doing recce of the place. In another footage, the three accused are seen heading toward the spot to execute the murder.
The postmortem report of Amravati chemist Umesh Kolhe has been received. According to the report, his brain vein was damaged due to the knife attack. Besides, his breathing tube, oesophagus, and nerves of his eyes were also damaged in this attack. The wound found on Umesh’s neck was five inches wide, seven inches long and five inches deep.