Amravati: Home Ministry orders NIA probe into shopkeeper's killing
The Home Affairs Ministry on Saturday ordered the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the recent killing of a shopkeeper in Maharashtra's Amravati district. Umesh Prahladrao Kolhe, a 54-year-old chemist, was allegedly stabbed to death last month for a social media post supporting suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, said the Maharashtra Police. A week later, tailor Kanhaiyalal Teli was slashed to death in Udaipur.
- During a TV channel debate on the Gyanvapi Mosque issue, the BJP's now-suspended spokesperson Sharma made offensive statements regarding Prophet Muhammad and his wife.
- Her comments triggered outrage and retaliation from several religious organizations, political parties, and Gulf nations, prompting the BJP to suspend her.
- A slew of hashtags began trending on social media against India and calls to boycott Indian goods gained traction.
"MHA has handed over the investigation of the case relating to the barbaric killing of Umesh Kolhe in Amravati Maharashtra on 21st June to NIA (sic)," the Home Ministry said in a tweet on Saturday. According to the MHA, the investigation will uncover the conspiracy behind the killing, as well as the participation of groups and international connections.
The police have arrested six persons in the case so far. Those arrested have been identified as Muddasir Ahmad (22), Shahrukh Pathan (25), Abdul Thoufik (24), Shoaib Khan (22), Atib Rashid (22), and Shamim Ahmed. They were apprehended after a complaint filed by Kohle's son Sanket at the City Kotwali Police Station in Amravati. Shamim, who was absconding initially, was also arrested on Saturday.
As per the complaint, the incident took place on June 21 late evening when Kolhe was on his way home after closing his shop, Amit Medical Store. Kohle's scooter was abruptly stopped by two men on a motorcycle. They stabbed him in the neck with a knife. Later, another man arrived, and the three fled the scene, as per his son.
Kohle's son Sanket (27) and his wife Vaishnavi were accompanying him on another scooter. "We were moving from Prabhat Chowk and our scooters had reached the Mahila College New High School's gate when the men attacked. My father fell and was bleeding," Sanket told the police. Kolhe was transported to the nearby Axon Hospital with the assistance of bystanders, where he died during treatment.
Meanwhile, the Amravati Police claimed the arrested individuals sought the assistance of the sixth accused, who provided them with a vehicle and Rs. 10,000 to flee. They said Shamim had assigned the other five accused particular responsibilities for the murder. He had asked two of them to keep an eye on Kolhe and alert the other three when he left the medical store.
"During the investigation, we learned that Kolhe had circulated a social media post supporting Nupur Sharma on WhatsApp," the officials told The Indian Express. "By mistake, he posted the message on a group with Muslim members who were also his customers. One of the arrested accused said this was an insult to the Prophet and hence he must die," they said.
Meanwhile, Sanket told The Indian Express that his father would never speak ill about anyone nor was he associated with any political party. "I also heard that he was murdered over his social media post, but I checked his Facebook profile and did not find anything objectionable. Only the police can tell what the motive was," he said.
Amravati City Police Commissioner Arti Singh earlier said, "Five persons have been arrested in the case and we are looking for the remaining whose arrest will give us clarity on the motive behind the murder."