Lucknow: Three persons were arrested Saturday in Gujarat’s Surat, in connection with the gruesome murder of hardline Hindutva leader Kamlesh Tiwari in Lucknow.
Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) O.P. Singh said the three accused — Maulana Sheikh Salim, 24, Faizan, 21, and Rashid Pathan, 23 — were the masterminds of the murder.
Those who executed the crime, however, are still absconding and a hunt has been launched to nab them, the DGP said.
The three accused were arrested with the help of Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad, he added.
Tension has gripped Lucknow since the murder Friday. Security has been stepped up in various parts of the Uttar Pradesh capital after several groups held demonstrations to protest the murder, police said.
Assailants came with a ‘box of sweets’
Tiwari, who was the national president of Hindu Samaj Party that he launched in 2017, was at his home when the assailants stabbed and shot at him around 2 pm.
Police said CCTV footage showed two saffron-clad men entering Tiwari’s house, which was also his party office, in the afternoon with a box of sweets. According to the police, the assailants hid the murder weapons, a knife and a country-made pistol, in that box.
Police said the duo had tea with Tiwari and soon after they took out the knife from the box of sweets and stabbed him over 15 times. His throat was also slit, said a police officer, adding that the assailants also shot at Tiwari before fleeing from the spot.
Tiwari was rushed to a hospital, where he died during treatment.
Police said the two accused have been identified.
Lucknow Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kalanithi Naithani told the media that the incident appeared to have been a result of some personal enmity.
The police have recovered the knife from the crime spot and it is being examined. They are also scanning the footage of CCTVs installed in and around Tiwari’s house, besides questioning several people.
King of controversies
Tiwari, a former Hindu Mahasabha leader, had the reputation of a staunch Hindutva leader who often courted controversies with his statements.
In 2015, Tiwari had made an objectionable statement on Prophet Muhammad after which he was arrested and booked under the stringent National Security Act (NSA). Recently, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had quashed the NSA charges against him.
According to his close associates, Tiwari was quite peeved with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) after it had distanced itself from his statement on Prophet Mohammed.
Criticised RSS, BJP on social media
On several occasions recently, Tiwari had spoken out against the RSS as well as the BJP.
In a Facebook post dated 14 October, Tiwari had written: “Persons associated with RSS and BJP are not being able to see the work being done by Kamlesh Tiwari who is fighting with his life to protect the Hindu rights.”
“They used to say fight against Muslims, we are with you. When I was in jail, nobody cared for me. Today, when I have organised and mobilised millions of Hindus to fight, they are feeling the pain,” the post said.
In another Facebook post dated 11 October, the former Hindu Mahasabha leader targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said the PM’s supporters had always supported the ‘jihadis’.
“The current central government is headed by Modi and his blind supporters are blaming the opposition leaders and secular leftists for incidents in Bengal. They were never with the Hindus anyway and never sought votes in the name of Hindutva. They had always sided with the jihadi and will continue doing so. If you need to oppose anyone (for all this), oppose Modi, oppose Mamata Bano.”
Tiwari also hit the headlines for his statements on Ram Temple.
Last year, he had said he would start the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya on 14 August with the help of 1 lakh people.
He wanted to construct Godse’s temple
Tiwari had written several posts on social media in support of Nathuram Godse, who killed Mahatma Gandhi.
According to media reports, Tiwari had proposed to build temples of Godse in at least 100 districts across the country, including Sitapur, Lucknow and Ahmedabad.
Tiwari had even said if Jinnah could be worshiped in this country, why couldn’t Godse get the same privilege?
He had also said Godse would be born in every household and people like Jinnah and Gandhi would be shot dead.