Udaipur killing: Centre directs NIA to take over probe; ‘foreign links’ on radar
A key reason behind the Centre roping in the NIA is that the accused persons directly threatened Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a video claiming responsibility for the attack
Amid uproar over the brutal killing of a tailor in Rajasthan’s Udaipur on Tuesday, the Centre today directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take over the probe and “thoroughly investigate” the involvement of any organisation or international linkages in connection with the incident.
Announcing the decision on Twitter, Union home minister Amit Shah said, “MHA has directed the NIA to take over the investigation of the brutal murder of Kanhaiya Lal Teli (the tailor) committed at Udaipur, Rajasthan. The involvement of any organisation and international linkages will be thoroughly investigated.”
The NIA has formally registered a case under sections 452, 302, 153(A), 153(B), 295(A) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, and sections 16, 18 and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.
The 47-year-old tailor was killed just days after he put out a message on the social media in support of suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma over her alleged derogatory comments about Prophet Mohammed during a television news debate. The hate crime on Tuesday sparked widespread protests, prompting the state administration to suspend internet services.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the accused persons – Riyaz Akhtari and Gaus Mohammad – were self-radicalised, but may have links with a Pakistan-based organisation that propagates extremism.
Officials, who did not wish to be named, said the NIA team, along with central intelligence agencies and Rajasthan Police, are interrogating the accused persons about the involvement of others, and where they learnt the beheading act, often used by global terror outfits such as the Islamic State.
A key reason behind the Centre roping in the NIA is that the accused persons directly threatened Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a video claiming responsibility for the attack. Intelligence agencies have termed it as an act of violent religious extremism due to which an NIA team has been sent to Udaipur.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday claimed that such killings cannot occur without links with radical elements at national and international levels.
“We are taking the incident very seriously. This is not a minor issue and it cannot happen until there is a link with radical elements at national and international level. This is what experience says... We have started an investigation,” Gehlot told reporters.
Earlier too, the NIA has probed several murders including that of RSS leader R Rudresh, who was hacked to death in October 2016 by two persons in Bengaluru; the killing of two BJP leaders – Shirish Bengali and Pragnesh Mistry – in Gujarat’s Bharuch in November 2015 and the murder of Hindu Munnani activist KP Suresh Kumar in 2014 in Tamil Nadu.
The anti-terror agency probes offences related to terror attacks, use of explosives and terror financing. Under the NIA Act, if the Centre feels that an crime committed in any state is a scheduled offence, the federal probe agency can “suo motu” take over the probe in such case(s).
Before 2019, when the Act was amended, the NIA was able to take up probes only in cases related to UAPA, or terror charges, the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, the Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 and sections related to threatening national security were invoked.
However, after the amendment, it can now “suo motu” take over cases from state governments without their consent in offences relates to UAPA, Arms Act, human trafficking, counterfeit currency, cyber-terrorism, and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.