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Dhandhuka murder: ATS to investigate a cleric's visits to Gujarat

Between June 2021 and December 2021, the accused cleric made six short excursions to Surat, Vadodara, and Ahmedabad

Dhandhuka murder: ATS to investigate a clerics visits to Gujarat

In its investigation into the murder of Kishan Boliya alias Kishan Bharwad, 30, in Dhandhuka on January 25, the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) discovered that the prime accused, Maulvi Qamargani Usmani, 40, arrested in Delhi, had made several trips to Gujarat and had established a branch of his organisation in Ahmedabad. The priest had also produced a list of persons who had "commented on the prophet," according to the ATS investigation.

All eight suspects in the murder have been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organized Crime (GUJCTOC) Act, purportedly for an unpleasant social media post.

According to the ATS, between June 2021 and December 2021, the accused cleric made six short excursions to Surat, Vadodara, and Ahmedabad, according to the detention plea filed by the agency and obtained by this daily. On Monday, a special GUJCTOC court remanded Usmani in ATS detention until February 16.

In questioning the other suspects, the agency discovered that one of the shooters, Shabbirbhai Chopda, and Imtiaz-khan Mehboobkhan Pathan, were given Rs 10,000 to kill Bharwad over his supposed insulting post on his Instagram account. Bharwad, who had been arrested on a complaint about the post, was out on bond when he was killed by bike-borne assailants, according to police.

The ATS claimed in court that the accused "conspired to spread terror among non-Muslims" across the country, with attacks planned on people who "disrespect Islam and the Prophet," including "Narsinhanand Saraswati, Waseem Rizvi, Sudarshan channel's Suresh Chavankhe, and Satya Sanatan channel's Ankur Arya."

The ATS further claimed that Usmani had purportedly revealed in a news conference that he has a list of 1,500 persons who have "disrespected Islam and the Prophet," and that the agency needs access to this list because "it is important to safeguard the safety of 1,500 people."

The list was compiled by Ehsan-ul-Haq, national secretary of Tehreek-e-Fahrog -e-educational Islam's and welfare organisation, with which Usmani was affiliated, and the ATS reasoned that it would have to investigate Ehsan in Usmani's presence."

The accused were "conspiring to kill" anyone who spoke ill of Islam "one by one," according to the application, and by murdering Kishan Bharwad, they attempted to "create dread and panic" among non-Muslims.

The suspects also conspired to kill one Saajan Odedara in Porbandar for "disrespecting Islam and the Prophet," according to the ATS. Other defendants in this case, Maulana Mohammad Ayub Javarawala (51) and Sabbir Chopda (25) allegedly went to Porbandar from Ahmedabad to conduct reconnaissance and carry out the plan, according to the ATS.

The ATS said it confiscated 1,000 copies of "inflammatory literature" in Gujarati and Hindi, an airgun with 250 cartridges, and Rs 10,000 provided as "help" after the killing from the home of one of the accused, Maulana Mohammad Ayub.

The ATS is also looking into a "conflict" involving numerous members of the Tehreek-e-Fahrogh-e-Islam educational and social group, which was founded in Lucknow in April 2021.

The special GUJCTOC court of Ahmedabad rural remanded three suspects — Shabbir Chopda, Imtiazkhan Pathan, and Maulana Mohammad Ayub Javarawala — to police custody until February 4. On Monday, another suspect, Azeem Sama, was placed in judicial detention.

Mohammadhussen alias Hussein Mistry, Mehmad Rameez Saleembhai Seta, and Matin Usmangani, three other suspects apprehended on February 2, were sent to police remand until February 10.

The ATS stated in their remand application that a branch of the Tehreek-e-Farogh-e-Islam organization was established in Gomtipur, Ahmedabad and that the ATS wants to investigate whether comparable branches were established in Surat, Vadodara, or any other district of Ahmedabad.

A Dhandhuka court had confined the accused Usmani to ATS custody until February 7 after he was arrested on January 30. The court jurisdiction for requesting remand transferred from the Dhandhuka court to a special GUJCTOC court in Ahmedabad rural with the inclusion of charges under the draconian GUJCTOC Act. Other accusations levied include those under the IPC and the Arms Act.

According to the ATS remand application, an investigation is underway into Usmani's call detail records (CDR), as well as his bank account transactions and those of the organisation with which he was affiliated, Tehreek-e-Farogh-e-Islam.

Usmani has not provided information of the organization's bank account activity, according to ATS. Usmani's personal bank account details with the DBS Bank in New Delhi were awaiting.

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