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Muslim cleric plotting murders of Nupur Sharma, BJP leaders arrested in Surat, had handlers in Pakistan, Nepal
Photo courtesy: Video grab

Muslim cleric plotting murders of Nupur Sharma, BJP leaders arrested in Surat, had handlers in Pakistan, Nepal

| @indiablooms | 05 May 2024, 02:16 pm

Surat (Gujarat): A 27-year-old Muslim cleric was arrested on Friday in Surat for an alleged conspiracy to assassinate BJP leaders and another leader from a right-wing group, media reports said.

The cleric, a native of Nandurbar in Maharashtra, was arrested on Friday from Bharimata Road near Phoolwadi Creek in Surat, reported Indian Express.

According to an India Today report, Surat Police Commissioner Anupam Singh Gehlot said accused Maulvi Sohel Abubakr Timol allegedly threatened the chief editor of Sudarshan TV channel, Telangana BJP MLA Raja Singh, and the party's former spokesperson Nupur Sharma, with the aid of his handlers in Pakistan and Nepal.

Police were alerted to a man who was connecting people on a WhatsApp group and disseminating content to provoke religious sentiments and inciting communal unrest during elections. Acting on this information, the police launched a probe, according to the report.

"Timol's mobile chats revealed he was conspiring with people from Pakistan and Nepal to offer Rs 1 crore 'supari' (contract for killing) and procure weapons from Pakistan to kill his first target, national president of Hindu Sanatan Sangh Upadesh Rana," Gehlot was quoted as saying by India Today.

"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 continuously in touch with persons/numbers from Pakistan and Nepal," Gehlot said, according to the report.

"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, it added.

According to a senior police official, chat records indicate that Timol aimed to disrupt communal harmony during the ongoing general elections.

The Surat police are coordinating with other agencies to determine if there were additional targets.

Initial probe suggest that Timol was exchanging information with two people named Dogar and Shehnaz through phone numbers linked with Pakistan and Nepal, respectively, said the report.

Nearly a year and a half ago, these individuals contacted Timol through social media platforms using phone numbers from Pakistan and Nepal and radicalised him by alleging that Hindu organizations in India were mocking the Prophet and needed to be addressed.

According to the report, police said Timol wrote speeches against Hinduism and threatened Rana on the chat app, warning him of a fate same as that of Kamlesh Tiwari, who was murdered.

A member of Timol's chat group allegedly also offered one crore rupees to murder Rana, along with his photo, it added.

The arrested accused was in contact with individuals using WhatsApp numbers with country codes from various countries such as Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, and Laos, police said.

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