“Well done Ashfaq, you have made the community proud. Do not worry, I will protect you.” After Kamlesh’s murder, Nagpur resident Sayyed Asim Ali said this to Sheikh Ashfaqul Hussain. He assured Ashfaq of all help to get Moinuddin Pathan and him safely out of Uttar Pradesh while cheering both of them. Asim said to Ashfaq, “Reach Karnataka in some way. Your surrender will be fully arranged.” Asim, a suspect in the conspiracy to murder the Hindu Samaj Party head arrested by the Maharashtra ATS on Monday for interrogation, gave this information to the police.
Asim said that the would-be killer had some idea about the Hindu Samaj Party head Tiwari based in Lucknow. However, he was not sure when, where and how to get him. He initially did not have enough information about Tiwari to be able to hatch a plot and yet was no less eager to see the Hindu activist eliminated.
Asim told the police he knew another arrested suspect Rashid Pathan but had no idea about Ashfaq who contacted him over the phone after watching a provocative video on social media about eight months ago. At the time, Ashfaq spoke to him continuously for a few days and then went incommunicado. After a gap of two months, the potential murderer called again. During the conversation, he mentioned Kamlesh Tiwari several times. He also talked about his resolve to kill Kamlesh Tiwari time and again.
Asim approached Ashfaq saying he would like to join the Minority Democratic Party. Asim said that Ashfaq used to promote the party using his Facebook profile. He shared many of Ashfaq’s posts and videos. Later, it was discovered that Ashfaq was also in touch with Tiwari. On hearing him frequently mention Kamlesh, Asim questioned Ashfaq who said that he had finally succeeded in reaching Tiwari using two fake profiles on Facebook. The bait of a profile that duped Tiwari carried the name Rohit Solanki on Facebook.
Asim told the police that he got the news of Tiwari’s murder on television at 1.30 PM on Friday in the afternoon. He called Rashid after seeing the report on a TV channel. Rashid told him that Ashfaq and Moin had bumped off Tiwari in Lucknow. At this, Asim told Rashid that the killer should contact him immediately. Ashfaq called him at Rashid’s behest.
Asim said that after the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari, the murderer had talked to him seven times on his mobile phone. On the other hand, Gujarat ATS got the call details of Asim’s mobile number of the past two or three months, in which 58 conversations had taken place between Ashfaq and him. Most of the calls were made by Ashfaq.
After the murder of Tiwari, Ashfaq and Moin reached the Khalsa Inn Hotel in Lalkuan and called Rashid from their mobile phone and informed him about the murder. He made the second call to Mohsin. Ashfaq then sent an SMS to his wife. The two left after a brief stay at the hotel.
During the police interrogation, Ashfaq and Moinuddin said that they had arrived in Lucknow as guests and had brought sweets. Ashfaq said that he had first waylaid the state president of Hindu Samaj Party in Gujarat, Jamin Dave Bapu, by donating Rs 50,000 to the party fund. When Bapu refused, Ashfaq planned to give the money directly to Tiwari. When the Hindu activist agreed to meet the person he thought was some Solanki, his fate was sealed.
The police are now probing how widespread the network of the killers is and how strongly they are backed financially as they believe it is not possible for people with modest income to hatch an elaborate plot of murder spanning two states while the killers are also generously offered money to spend to gain access to their targets.