Kamlesh Tiwari, leader of the Hindu Samaj Party and a former leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, was shot dead in broad daylight in Lucknow on Friday.
He was rushed to the trauma centre where he succumbed to his injuries.
According to reports, the attackers, wearing saffron clothes, walked into Tiwari’s office in Khurshid Bagh area on the pretext of handing over a box of sweets.
Soon after walking in, the assailants opened the box, took out the firearm and sprayed Tiwari with bullets and fled.
Tiwari was taken to the trauma centre but could not be saved.
Tiwari, a former Hindu Mahasabha leader, had formed the Hindu Samaj Party in January 2017. Tiwari had earlier served as the president of the Hindu Mahasabha.
He had made highly controversial remarks involving Prophet Muhammad. He was arrested and the National Security Act (NSA) was slapped on him. Recently, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court revoked the NSA against him.
Lucknow Senior Superintendent of Police Kalanidhi Naithani said police teams have been formed to arrest the assailants.
This is the fourth murder of a right-wing leader this month.
On October 8, BJP leader Chaudhary Yashpal Singh was gunned down in a similar manner in Deoband.
On October 10, a BJP leader Kabir Tiwari, also a former student leader, was shot dead in Basti which led to student groups going on a rampage and burning down government vehicles.
On October 13, BJP corporator Dhara Singh, 47, was gunned down by unidentified assailants in Deoband in Saharanpur on Saturday morning.
The murder has taken a new turn with his wife Kiran Tiwari saying that a cleric from Bijnor was the mastermind behind her husband’s killing.
Police sources now claim that Tiwari was possibly on the hit list of the ISIS after he made objectionable remarks against Prophet Mohammad.
According to sources, two suspects arrested by the Gujarat police in 2017 — Obaid Mirza and Qasim — had revealed during interrogation that Tiwari was on their hit list.
The two said that they had been shown a video of Tiwari and were asked to eliminate him.
Tiwari, his family sources said, had apprehended a threat to his life and had sought protection. He had even tweeted about this.
Meanwhile, the police said that it appears that the assailants were familiar with the deceased.
“According to the CCTV footage, the killers spent about 23 minutes with Tiwari and had tea with him. They slit his throat with a knife and then sprayed him with bullets. They left after ensuring that he would not survive,” said an officer.
The state home department has so far maintained a studied silence over the incident.
Kamlesh Tiwari would have remained the little known leader of a fringe Hindu outfit had it not been for his gruesome murder in Lucknow on Friday.
In 2015, Tiwari, who was in his mid-forties, first made headlines when he allegedly made objectionable remarks against Prophet Muhammad, which created a huge uproar and resulted in massive protests by Muslims across the country. He had also posted inflammatory comments on social media.
Saharanpur and Deoband, in particular, were on the boil after Tiwari’s remarks and protests were seen on the streets. The national highway was blocked and the police had a tough time trying to control the outrage.
A police officer was even injured during the clashes between the mob and the police and tempers cooled down only after Tiwari was arrested.
An FIR was lodged against him under Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between groups on ground of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code.
The police booked him under the National Security Act (NSA) and he spent a year in jail. In 2016, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court quashed the NSA against him and he was released on bail.
Tiwari was the self-proclaimed president of the All India Hindu Mahasabha and his claim was keenly contested on several occasions by the Mahasabha itself.
Finally, in 2017, Tiwari floated his own Hindu Samaj Party and made desperate attempts to emerge as a Hindu hardliner — he even announced a temple dedicated to Nathuram Godse. But the project never took off.
Tiwari had also made an unsuccessful attempt to enter electoral politics in 2012 when he contested the Assembly elections from Lucknow and lost.
However, he had built up a group of strong supporters for himself, comprising mainly wannabe Hindu leaders.