Kamlesh Tiwari
Kamlesh Tiwari Image Credit: Twitter

Lucknow: Hindu Samaj Party leader Kamlesh Tiwari was stabbed 15 times and shot once in his head, according to the postmortem report that was released on October 23.

The stabbing was centred on the upper part of body, from jaws to chest. All wounds were inflicted within 10cm of one another while two deep cut marks on the neck points to attempt to slit his throat, the autopsy revealed.

The assailants also shot him once to make sure that he did not survive the attack. The bullet was fired in his face and the doctors conducting post-mortem on his body found 0.32 bullet on the backside of the skull.

The Hindu Samaj Party leader was murdered in Lucknow on Friday when the assailants came to meet him on the pretext of working for his outfit.

What went down?

On October 18, 2019, Tiwari had agreed to meet 'Rohit Solanki', who had befriended him on Facebook. This was the alias of Ashfaq Hussain, who is one of the prime accused in the case. Hussain and his partner, 27-year-old Moinuddin Khurshid Pathan, spent about 30 minutes talking to Tiwari, police have said, under the pretext of giving him sweets.

Finding themselves alone with him, the due stabbed him frantically before running away.

He was found by his aide in a pool of blood after returning from an errand. He was rushed to a trauma centre nearby, but was declared dead.

Bloody clothes in hotel

The two assailants who checked into a nearby hotel a day before committing the Lucknow murder. According to the UP Police, they had checked out of the hotel barely an hour after brutally murdering the former Hindu Mahasabha leader on October 18, leaving behind their blood-soaked saffron kurtas and a blood-stained knife and other personal belongings in the hotel room.

Then they left for Palia town of Lakhimpur Kheri district on the same night to cross Indo-Nepal borders. However, they failed to cross the border due to tight security so they hired a cab and travelled to Shahjahanpur.

Tahir Ahmed, the cab driver who brought the murder suspects from Palia to Shahjahanpur railway station, confirmed to police that both the persons brought by him were the ones spotted entering Tiwari's house before his murder as seen in the CCTV footage. The car has also been seized by the cops.

The accused stayed at Shahjahanpur railway station for a while on the night of October 20, and their presence was confirmed by a CCTV footage recovered from a hotel by the STF.

"The two had approached their family members and acquaintances for more funds after the money they had on them was finished," the ATS said. And the electronic surveillance of these calls led the Special Task Force to 25-year-old cleric, Syed Kaifi Ali, who is associated with a shrine in Barelly.

The accused had apparently visited Ali, on October 18, and admitted to killing Tiwari. They sought shelter but Ali refused to provide them any support and asked them to leave. However, he never informed the police about the killers which is why his role is suspect.

The killers also sought his help in crossing the Uttar Pradesh-Nepal border.

According to a senior police official, "The cleric had also received a call from a suspect in Gujarat on his cell phone. He has confessed to having provided a route map of the porous Indo-Nepal border to the suspected killers."

The Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad on Tuesday said that it has arrested the two main accused from while they were trying to enter the state from Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, on October 19, three persons were held by a joint team of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat Police in connection with the killing. According to the police, the accused -- identified as Maulana Mohsin Sheikh (24), Khurshid Ahmed Pathan (23) and Faizan (21) -- have confessed to their involvement in the murder.

As of now, at least 200 people have been questioned in connection with the case, the SIT further said.

The motive

Tiwari was known for making contentious remarks; in 2015, his hate speech against Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) followed widespread protests. It also led to a bounty on his head by hardline clerics and finally, an almost one-year jail sentence after being found guilty under the National Security Act. (This was later revoked by the Allahabad High Court.)

Under interrogation the suspects have admitted to the murder, pointing to this incident as the trigger.

However, the political leader has often been in the spotlight for similar remarks and has many criminal cases, including promoting enmity between groups on ground of religion, defiling places of worship and outraging religious feelings, in the Indian courts.

Tiwari, a former Hindu Mahasabha chief, had in January 2017 formed the Hindu Samaj Party and was known for making provocative remarks.

In 2015, he was arrested and the National Security Act (NSA) was slapped on him after he made some controversial statements about Prophet Muhammad. Recently, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court revoked the NSA against him.

How many arrests have been made?

In all, six persons have been arrested in connection with the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari.

Three of the accused were arrested from Surat while the other one was nabbed from Nagpur in Maharashtra.

Uttar Pradesh police on Monday announced a reward of Rs250,000 each for the arrest of two suspects allegedly involved in the murder case of Hindu Samaj Party leader Kamlesh Tiwari.

The police also released the photographs of the two suspects Ashfaq and Moinuddin.

On Saturday, Maulana Mohsin Sheikh (24), Khurshid Ahmed Pathan (23) and Faizan (21) -- three accused -- were arrested from Surat by a joint team of the Gujarat Police and the Uttar Pradesh Police for allegedly murdering Tiwari. A local court in Lucknow sent the three accused- Mohsin Sheikh, Faizan and Pathan – to police custody for four days on Tuesday.

Uttar Pradesh Police had taken the transit remand of these accused after they were arrested in Surat, Gujarat.

Not alone

This is the fourth murder of a right wing leader this month in UP. On October 8, BJP leader Chaudhary Yashpal Singh was gunned down in a similar manner in Deoband, while on October 10, BJP leader Kabir Tiwari was shot dead in Basti. Kabir Tiwari was also a former student leader and student groups went on a rampage after his killing, burning down government vehicles.

On October 13, BJP corporator Dhara Singh, 47, was gunned down by unidentified assailants in Saharanpur.

Satyam Tiwari, son of Tiwari has, however, demanded an NIA probe into the murder of his father.

Speaking to reporters, Satyam said, "We want NIA probe into the case as we do not trust anyone. My father was killed although he had security guards, how can we possibly trust the administration then?"

Kamlesh Tiwari's mother calls for justice

Kusum Tiwari, mother of Kamlesh Tiwari, has demanded the death penalty for all the accused persons.

"We are very happy with the arrest of the accused persons, they should all be hanged. I am satisfied by the government's action," Kusum Tiwari said.

A four-member team of Lucknow Police today is going to Ahmedabad seeking remand of two main accused in the case: Ashfaq Hussain Jakirhussain Shaikh (34) and Moinuddin Khurshid Pathan (27), who were arrested by Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) from the Gujarat-Rajasthan border on Tuesday.