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Maharashtra: Chemist In Amravati Killed For Alleged Support To Nupur Sharma, Centre Orders NIA Probe

The NIA is also probing the murder of tailor Kanhaiya Lal in Rajasthan's Udaipur, who was killed allegedly over disrespect shown to Prophet Muhammad.

Representative image of Maharashtra Police personnel
Representative image of Maharashtra Police personnel PTI photo

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will investigate the killing of a 54-year-old chemist in Maharashtra's Amravati last month, who is suspected to have been killed by the accused as he had allegedly shared a post on a social messaging platform in support of Nupur Sharma.

Sharma is a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) functionary whose comments on Prophet Muhammad had caused international outrage. 

The chemist, Umesh Prahladrao Kolhe, was killed on June 21, and six persons have been arrested so far in this connection, an official said. A Union Home Ministry spokesperson said in a tweet that the probe of the case relating to the "barbaric killing" of Kolhe has been handed over to NIA.

The NIA would investigate the conspiracy behind the killing and involvement of organisations and international linkages. The agency is also investigating the murder of tailor Kanhaiya Lal in Rajasthan's Udaipur, who was killed by two men who also filmed the crime and confessed to it in another video saying it was in response to disrespect shown to Prophet Muhammad.

A team of NIA on Saturday visited Maharashtra's Amravati as part of its investigation.

The crime branch of Amravati city police arrested Irfan from Nagpur in Saturday evening.

"Kolhe ran a medical store in Amravati city. He had allegedly shared a post on some WhatsApp groups in support of Nupur Sharma for her comments. He even mistakenly shared the post in a WhatsApp group in which some Muslims were also members, including his customers," an official of the City Kotwali police station said.

He said Irfan hatched a conspiracy to eliminate Kolhe and roped in five persons for it. He promised to give Rs 10,000 to them and a safe escape in a car. 

The incident occurred between 10 pm and 10.30 pm on June 21, when Kolhe was going home on a two-wheeler after closing his shop, he said, adding that his son Sanket (27) and wife Vaishnavi were accompanying him on a different vehicle.   

"When all of them reached near Mahila College's gate, two motorcycle-borne men came from behind and blocked Kolhe's path. A youth alighted from the motorcycle and stabbed Kolhe on his neck with a sharp weapon and escaped from the spot. Kolhe collapsed on the road in a pool of blood. Sanket rushed him to a hospital, where he died," the official said. 

Based on Saket's complaint, an FIR was registered. Besides Irfan, five persons, identified as Muddsir Ahemad (22), Shahrukh Pathan (25), Abdul Thoufique (24), Shoaib Khan (22), and Atib Rashid (22), all residents of Amravati and daily wage workers, have been arrested. 

The police have seized the knife used in the crime and obtained the CCTV footages that captured the sequence of events.

Police Commissioner Singh said the exact reason behind the murder is being ascertained. 

(With PTI inputs)

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