Chandigarh: The two men who allegedly killed tailor Kanhaiya Lal Teli using a butcher knife in Udaipur last week had made a “hit-list” of seven people (including Kanhaiya Lal) who had supported and defended now-suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Nupur Sharma on social media, marking the other six as their “next targets”, a source privy to the investigation told ThePrint.
The men — Ghouse Mohammed and Riyaz Attari — had also crafted six butcher knives, after sourcing the material from an open market in the first week of June, and had kept these ready with a butcher named Mohsin, the source said. Mohsin is also under arrest and has been sent to the custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
“The men had made a hit-list by going through social media and identifying handles of people who had come out in support of Nupur Sharma. Kanhaiya Lal, too, was identified in a similar manner,” the source said.
“Six meat knives were sourced locally by the two men. While two were used in the crime on 28 June for killing Kanhaiya Lal, the rest were saved for ‘phase two’ — for others on the list. All six knives have been recovered,” the source said.
It was during a TV debate on 27 May that Nupur Sharma had made a statement about the Prophet Muhammad that led to outrage. She was subsequently expelled from the BJP for expressing views “contrary to the party’s position”.
‘Watched Madani channel, in touch with Pakistani handlers’
According to the source, the two men were in touch with handlers from Pakistan, identified as Salman and Ibrahim, who had allegedly directed the men to carry out the killing and “go for the head”.
“The men were told that Indian Muslims are no good and can only protest. The men were told that if they really want to do something, they should go for the heads of people who supported the insult to the Prophet,” the source said.
“In the interrogation, the men have said that they had discussed the targets with the men in Pakistan and had shortlisted them based on what they had said about the Nupur Sharma episode on social media. They were also briefed on the style of killing,” added the source.
According to the source, the men have also said in their questioning that they were “highly motivated by the Madani channel”.
This is a channel in Pakistan run by Dawat-e-Islami, popular among followers of Barelvi movement. Barelvi is a revivalist movement following the Sunni Hanafi school of jurisprudence.
Dawat-e-Islami, a missionary organisation, was founded in Karachi in September 1981 by a group of Sunni scholars, with Maulana Ilyas Qadri as its main leader. The group runs several educational institutions in Pakistan as well in other parts of the world.
According to the police, Ghouse Mohammad, one of the two accused in the case, had gone to Karachi in Pakistan in 2014 and had attended lessons at Dawat-e-Islami.
The investigators are now probing if money was sent to the men to execute the killings. The men will be in the NIA’s custody till 13 July. The NIA has thus far arrested five men in connection with the case.
While Ghouse Mohammed and Riyaz Attari have been arrested for executing the murder, Mohammad Mohsin, Mohsin Khan and Asif have been arrested in connection with the alleged conspiracy.