THE NATIONAL Investigation Agency (NIA) has found that the killing of Kanhaiyalal Teli in Udaipur was “meticulously planned” and “instigated” by a person in Pakistan identified as “Salman bhai” who told one of the accused, Mohammad Ghouse, that he “must do something spectacular” in response to the remarks on the Prophet since “peaceful protests will not yield any result”, The Indian Express has learnt.
Both Ghouse and Muhammad Riyaz Atari, who was seen in a video attacking Kanhaiyalal with a cleaver, had participated in the protests early last month against remarks on the Prophet made by BJP’s Nupur Sharma who was subsequently suspended by the party.
According to sources, Ghouse had gone to Pakistan in December 2014 to attend a 45-day programme on the invitation of Dawat-e-Islami, a “Pakistan-based radical Islamic organisation”. They said that after returning in January 2015, he joined a few WhatsApp groups and was in touch with “Salman bhai” and another person, identified as Abu Ibrahim, in Pakistan.
According to the NIA’s preliminary probe, Ghouse and Atari had started planning the attack “around June 10-15”. They are learnt to have told the agency that a man identified as “Babla bhai”, who hails from the Dhanmandi area where Kanhaiyalal’s ‘Supreme Tailors’ was located, had targeted 10-11 people over the remarks — and assigned different groups to attack them.
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“The role of Babla bhai and other details are being investigated,” said a source.
The initial examination of Ghouse and Riyaz has also revealed that in the two-three weeks preceding the attack, photos and details of a few individuals were circulated on local WhatsApp groups with members from the Muslim community. “The photo and details of Kanhaiyalal, too, were shared in one of these groups,” said the source.
While Ghouse and Atari chose Kanhaiyalal as their target since his shop was close to their place of work, they were “actively assisted” by a few local youths, sources said. Two of them, Wasim and Mohsin Khan, had undertaken a recce of the tailoring shop before the attack on June 28, sources said, adding that this shows detailed planning by the accused.
Mohsin and another person, identified as Asif Hussain, were arrested on Friday.
On the day of the incident, Ghouse and Atari came in separate vehicles to the Maldaha market, where Kanhaiyalal’s shop was located, and parked near Mohsin’s shop, the sources said.
Ghouse is learnt to have told Mohsin to keep the keys of his scooter with a message that if they do not return, it would mean “the work was done” and he should return the two-wheeler to the accused’s house.
After the killing, sources said, Ghouse and Atari went to the office of a man identified as “Shoib bhai”, where they recorded another video wearing the same clothes. This video, in which they issued a death threat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was uploaded by Atari on several local WhatsApp groups of which he was a member.
Ghouse’s mobile phone was then switched off, the investigation revealed.
The two accused later went to the workshop of another person to change clothes. They had planned to go to Ajmer Sharif, and since they could not arrange a car, left on Atari’s motorcycle. They were, however, intercepted en route and arrested by the police at Bhim in Rajsamand district.
The killing on Tuesday of 40-year-old Kanhaiyalal triggered arson and protests in Udaipur, and the imposition of prohibitory orders across Rajasthan for a month, and prompted the Union Home Ministry to send an NIA team to the city.
According to the police, while the two main accused were formally arrested on Wednesday, four others, who were also allegedly involved, are being questioned.
On Wednesday, The Indian Express reported that nearly three weeks before he was hacked to death inside his shop, Kanhaiyalal was arrested on an FIR lodged against him for allegedly hurting religious feelings — and, following his release on bail, had sought police protection citing death threats.
But the police said he withdrew the request after “5-7 responsible persons from both communities sat down and reached an agreement”.