Kamlesh Tiwari Murder: A Tale of Two Theories

The police are investigating the 'revenge for blasphemy' motive while his mother has accused a BJP leader of conspiring to kill him. In a Facebook video, Tiwari himself had accused the BJP leadership of plotting against him.

New Delhi: The narrative over Hindutva leader Kamlesh Tiwari’s murder – which the police has blamed on Muslim clerics – has taken a sharp twist after his family blamed local Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh for his killing. His family also met Adityanath at his office in Lucknow.

Tiwari’s mother and nephew claimed on Saturday that local BJP leader Shiv Kumar Gupta, a resident of Thatheri, conspired to murder Tiwari over a ‘temple dispute’. She also referred to him as “mafia” and alleged that he has about 500 cases registered against him.

Tiwari was head of a rival Hindutva organisation, the Hindu Samaj Party and achieved notoriety for using abusive language a few years ago against Prophet Muhammad.

Though Tiwari’s wife has blamed his killing on to Muslim clerics who had announced a bounty on his head, the mother said the Adityanath government and the entire BJP was responsible for killing her son because they had been finding it difficult to stand Tiwari.

Tiwari, in a Facebook Live video before his murder, had also said that BJP leaders were plotting his murder. He had added that soon after the Adityanath government took charge, his security cover had been removed.

Also read: Five Arrested In UP Hindu Group Leader Kamlesh Tiwari’s Killing

“They [BJP leaders] are plotting my murder but I still stand with their workers because I’m fighting for Hindus. I want to say that I’m all alone in this,” Tiwari had said in the video.

According to CCTV footage available, two men clad in saffron kurtas were seen approaching Tiwari’s residence on the morning of his murder. The police had said the fact that the two men who had arrived at Tiwari’s residence to kill him had drunk tea and chatted with him for about 30 minutes before stabbing him to death suggests they were known to Tiwari and could also be his fellow right-wing workers. 

Lucknow special superintendent of police (SSP) Kalanidhi Naithani told News18, “The two persons had come to visit Tiwari and interacted with him for about half an hour on the first floor of his house in the Naka area. Apparently after having tea, the duo attacked Tiwari and left the place.”

“He was then rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead. Various police teams have been deployed to nab the culprits and details about the two individuals are being looked into. All the points are being investigated and the culprits will be nabbed soon. As per preliminary information, it seems the two men were known to Tiwari.”

Earlier, police had claimed that Tiwari’s alleged derogatory post against Prophet Mohammad in 2015 was the prime reason behind his murder. An attempt had clearly been made to point out Muslim involvement in his murder. Police have since pursued Muslim men in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, who had in the past spoken out against Tiwari. 

So far,  five Muslim men have been arrested in connection with the case. Out of these five, three were arrested in Gujarat and the other two who are Muslim clerics from western Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district were named by Tiwari’s wife in the FIR. 

According to ANI, three men arrested in Gujarat have been identified as Maulana Mohsin Sheikh (24) Rasheed Ahmed Pathan (23) and Faizan (21). Two clerics from Bijnor are Maluana Anwar-Ul Haq and Mufti Naeem Kazmin who had announced a bounty on Tiwari’s head for his alleged derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammad years ago. 

According to PTI, Sayed Asim Ali (29) has also been arrested by Anti-Terrorism Squad in Maharashtra. The police claimed that he was involved in organising a protest against Tiwari and had threatened him via a YouTube video in the past. 

In the aftermath of these arrests, Hindutva activists on social media have actively sought to provide a communal colour to Tiwari’s murder by sharing gory pictures of his corpse with the question, “Why are liberals silent on Tiwari’s murder?”

Police have also attempted to pursue suspects identified in the CCTV footage. As per an NDTV report, sources in the police say that the suspects travelled from Gujarat to Kanpur by train and then reached Lucknow. Their last-known location is somewhere in the National Capital Region. “We have contacted Gujarat and Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squads. Our team has also spoken to the woman who was seen in the CCTV footage. All aspects of the case are being probed,” said O.P. Singh, director-general of police (Uttar Pradesh), on Saturday.

News18 has reported that this is the fourth murder of a rightwing leader in Uttar Pradesh this month.

“On October 8, BJP leader Chaudhary Yashpal Singh was gunned down in a similar manner in Deoband. On October 10, BJP leader Kabir Tiwari, also a former student leader, was shot dead in Basti ,which led to student groups going on the rampage and burning down government vehicles. On October 13, BJP corporator Dhara Singh, 47, was gunned down by unidentified assailants in Deoband in Saharanpur on Saturday morning,” the portal reported.