Another Indian Civilian Murdered for Supporting "Blasphemous" Politician

On July 21, Umesh Kolhe, a pharmacist, was brutally killed on his way home after shutting his drug store in Maharashtra, India. The authorities suspect he was attacked for sharing posts on social media supporting Nupur Sharma. The police have arrested seven, and the NIA (National Investigation Agency) has started an in-depth investigation.

The victim, Umesh Kolhe, was the owner of a pharmacy store, Amit Medical, in Amravati, Maharashtra. On the night of the incident, he was going back home on his bike. His son Sanket and daughter-in-law Vaishnavi were also accompanying him but were in a different vehicle.

According to the authorities, the murder of Kolhe was planned. The attackers initially planned to kill him the day before, but as he closed his shop earlier than usual, their plan could not be executed. Unfortunately, the next day, after he shut down his store around 10 pm, he was ambushed by the attackers who slit his throat. The police said that the suspects monitored Kohle for three days based on the CCTV footage that they had retrieved.

An Amravati Police official said, "When all of them reached near Mahila College's gate, two motorcycle-borne men came from behind and blocked Kolhe's path. A youth alighted from the motorcycle and stabbed Kolhe on his neck with a sharp weapon, and escaped from the spot. Kolhe collapsed on the road in a pool of blood."

Sanket, along with the help of the people in the neighborhood, rushed Kolhe to a nearby hospital, where he was declared dead.

A few days before his death, Kolhe shared a post in a WhatsApp group supporting the remarks made by BJP leader Nupur Sharma against the prophet Muhammad. The group he posted on had many members; many were his friends and regular customers. A Muslim member, Dr. Yusuf Khan, a close acquaintance of the victim, forwarded the post on pro-Islamic groups that ultimately led to the murder.

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted on Saturday, "MHA has handed over the investigation of the case relating to the barbaric killing of Umesh Kolhe in Amravati Maharashtra on June 21 to NIA,"

The police have arrested seven people in connection with the murder. Two of the accused, Mudasir Ahmed and Shahrukh Pathan, were arrested on June 23 in the initial investigation by the Amravati police following the complaint by Umesh Kohle's son Sanket Kohle. Their interrogation revealed the involvement of Abdul Taufik, Shoeb Khan, Atib Rashid, Yusuf Khan, and Irfan Khan, who were later arrested.

The alleged mastermind, Irfan Khan, an NGO head, is said to have orchestrated the murder of Kolhe. He gathered a group of five thugs and promised them Rs. 10000 for the assassination of the 54-year-old pharmacist. He also assured the thugs of a safe escape as they would flee in a car he had prepared.

Communal tension between the two major religious bodies of India, the Hindus, and the Muslims, has taken a turn for the worst. The ex-BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma's remarks against the Islamic prophet resulted in unrest in the country. While the Muslims want Sharma to be severely punished, many from the Hindu communities have shown her their support. People publicly supporting Sharma on social media are receiving death threats. The Amravati police have asked to be notified of such threats; one report stated that there have been over a thousand.

In a similar incident, Kanhaiya Lal Teli, a tailor from Udaipur, Rajasthan, was beheaded for supporting Nupur Sharma. The accused had come to his shop on the pretext of getting clothes stitched. After the murder, the accused shared a video and said that they had killed Kanhaiya Lal to avenge the insult to Islam.

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