Men who claimed to attack Umar Khalid part of gau raksha outfit, says Police

One of the men who had claimed, in a WhatsApp video, to have attacked JNU student leader Umar Khalid outside Constitution Club on August 13, Naveen Dalal, had earlier been arrested in 2014 for being part of a 40-man mob that had entered the BJP’s office at Ashoka Road with a severed cow head. After questioning them during the day, police said the two, who are associated with a gau raksha outfit, were “trying to gain popularity”.

The two men, identifying themselves as Sarvesh Shahpur and Naveen Dalal had said that they would surrender at the house of Sikh revolutionary Kartar Singh Sarabha on August 17, however, they did not show up. On Friday, teams from Delhi and Ludhiana rural police had donned civilian clothes and were patrolling the area. Police confirmed that the two men, suspected to be from Haryana, did not surrender. Later, the Delhi Police detained the two men.

Additional DCP (special cell) Manishi Chandra confirmed Dalal’s arrest in 2014 and said an FIR was registered against him at Parliament Street police station. “The case is still pending in a Delhi court,” he said. On Monday, “both accused were arrested from Hisar’s Fatehabad district”. Dalal had been part of a cow protection mob led by Gopal Das, who sought strict laws on cow slaughter.

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The police stated that after Naveen had shot at Umar, Sarvesh Shahpur, the other man in the video, had been standing at a tea stall nearby. Both fled separately and later met in Jhajjar, said police.

After questioning them, police discovered that they were active on social media and had ‘wanted to do something impactful’. On Facebook, Shahpur had discovered a spot about the event ‘Khauff Se Azadi: Towards Freedom without Fear’ being held in Constitution Club.

They thought disrupting the event would grab maximum eyeballs, police said. The two claimed the pistol was not to attack Khalid but for their own safety. “The pistol belongs to Shahpur; he had borrowed it from a man who is now dead. During the incident, Dalal was carrying the pistol,” said an officer.

Police said the two talked on phone and met at Nangli Dairy near Najafgarh before reaching Constitution Club in a bus. As the event was yet to start, they stood outside to have tea. In the meantime, they saw Khalid with friends and Dalal attacked him. Police are verifying whether or not they came prepared to attack Khalid.

Dalal had hidden at  Akashwani Bhawan before hiring at autorickshaw and reaching India Gate. He took the metro from Central Secretariat and reached Dwarka Mor Metro station. He then boarded a bus and went to Bahadurgarh before going to hide in Hisar. Police said both were hiding at residences of their associates.

Khalid in response to their arrest, said: “Even though these two have been arrested, I hope the investigation will unearth if there were others behind this conspiracy. We have seen in previous cases how right-wing groups have been involved in murders. That angle must be probed. Those who said this was a staged attack should now apologise to me.”

Last year, Gauri Lankesh, a senior Kannada journalist known for her criticism of Hindu extremism, wasshot dead at her home. Lankesh, 55, was the daughter of famous poet-turned-journalist P Lankesh. She was the editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, writing often against Sangh organisations and communal violence in the country.

Recently, the SIT probing the case suspects that four top-level leaders of a pro-Hindutva outfit were the ones who conceived the plot to kill her and other rationalists, the news minute reported.

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According to the report, it has been revealed that the six accused in the case were the executors of the murder plot and investigators have launched a hunt for four more persons connected to the murder.

“There is a suspicion that a retired Army Colonel, who became a member of a pro-Hindutva outfit is one of the four men who hatched the plot,” the SIT source added.

In August 2015, scholar, rationalist and teacher M.M. Kalburgi was shot dead at his home in the north Karnataka town of Dharwad for his views against the Hindutva brigade.


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