Gujarat cops arrest maulvi; unearth plan to kill Hindu leader

Gujarat cops arrest maulvi; unearth plan to kill Hindu leader

Surat | A man was arrested in Surat in Gujarat on Saturday for allegedly planning to murder the leader of a Hindu organisation and threatening the chief editor of Sudarshan television channel as well BJP's Telangana MLA Raja Singh and the party's former spokesperson Nupur Sharma in connivance with his handlers from Pakistan and Nepal, a senior police official said.

Surat police commissioner Anupam Singh Gehlot identified the arrested accused as Maulvi Sohel Abubakr Timol (27), who worked at a thread factory as a manager and offered private tuition on Islam to Muslim children.

He was found to be conspiring with people from Pakistan and Nepal to offer Rs 1 crore 'supari' (contract for killing) and procure weapons from Pakistan to kill the national president of Hindu Sanatan Sangh Upadesh Rana, said Gehlot.

"After his detention, we found several objectionable contents in his mobile phones, including the one regarding offering Rs 1 crore for the murder of Updesh Rana. For this, he was in continuous touch with persons/numbers from Pakistan and Nepal," Gehlot told PTI.

"Timol was also found to be involved in issuing threats to Rana in March this year. The accused used a virtual number from Laos to issue threats to the target by connecting numbers from Pakistan and Nepal in his group call," he said.

"Photos and other details found on his phone number show they (accused and associates) were discussing on a secure app about targeting and threatening editor-in-chief of Sudarshan TV Suresh Chavhanke, political leader Nupur Sharma, and Hyderabad MLA Raja Singh. For this purpose, they were planning to collect funds and procure weapons," Gehlot said.

These persons are highly radicalised and talked about murdering Hindutva leaders, and discussed the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari (Uttar Pradesh based president of Hindu Samaj Party who was killed on October 18, 2019 in Lucknow), Gehlot said.

Chat records showed Timol wanted to kill Rana soon in order to disturb communal harmony during the ongoing general elections, the official said, adding that Surat police was taking the help of other agencies to find out if they had more targets in mind.

Preliminary interrogation of the accused has revealed he was approached by two persons identified as Dogar and Shehnaz having phone numbers belonging to Pakistan and Nepal, respectively, a crime branch release stated.

"Around a year and half ago, the two persons contacted the accused through social media on phone numbers belonging to Pakistan and Nepal. They instigated the accused by claiming the Nabi had been mocked by Hindu organisations in India and these need to be straightened out," the release said.

As per police, Timol received an international SIM number from Laos in order to keep his identity a secret and he got a business number on social media activated, which he used to issue threats to Rana.

On the chat app, he wrote speeches against Hinduism and threatened Rana that he would be murdered like Kamlesh Tiwari, police said, adding that a member of his chat group had sent Rana's photo with a Rs 1 crore offer to murder him.

"The accused used social media to spread communal animosity, to upload photos of the national flag of India and make lewd comments in posts or videos about Hinduism. He created a false electronic record and ordered arms from foreign handlers," the release said.

The arrested accused was in contact with holders of Whatsapp numbers with codes of different countries like Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, the release added.

He was booked under Indian Penal Code sections 153 (A) (indulge in wanton vilification or attacks upon the religion, race), 467, 468 and 471 (related to forging of documents or electronic record) and section 120 (B) for criminal conspiracy, as well as the Information Technology Act, the official said.

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