A special court in Mumbai has refused bail to an accused in the killing of Amravati-based pharmacist Umesh Kolhe last year, saying there are specific allegations and material to show the applicant participated in the conspiracy of the crime.
Kolhe, who had shared social media posts backing former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma over the latter’s controversial comments about Prophet Mohammad, was killed on June 21, 2022 in eastern Maharashtra’s Amravati city, located about 650 km from Mumbai.
Special Judge Rajesh Katariya, in the order passed on November 10, noted there was ample material against accused Mushifique Ahmad regarding his involvement in the alleged conspiracy of commission of crime.
“The offence is very serious in nature,” the court said adding the allegations made by the prosecuting agency National Investigation Agency (NIA) – and the material submitted by it in the chargesheet reveal prime facie case against Ahmad.
“Considering totality of the material, there is a role of the applicant (Ahmad) in the crime. There are specific allegations and material to show that the applicant had participated in the conspiracy of crime and aided the co-accused persons,” the court said.
It cannot be said that the accusations against Ahmad are “inherently improbable or wholly unbelievable,” the judge said.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that the accusation against the applicant are prima facie true,” the court said in its order rejecting bail.
Ahmad in his plea seeking bail claimed he was implicated in the case and that he had not played any role in the commission of the alleged offence. He said he was an Imam of a local mosque and a social worker.
The NIA opposed the plea and claimed Ahmad was one of the main conspirators and he played a vital role to help the other co-accused in the case.
The court in its order noted Ahmad and another accused in the case called a meeting of members of the Muslim community on June 9, 2022 to discuss the comment made by Nupur Sharma.
The NIA has arrested 11 persons in the case and claimed that radicalised Islamists of the Tablighi Jamaat killed Kolhe for supporting Sharma’s statement.
The accused have been booked under the Indian Penal Code on charges of criminal conspiracy, murder, promoting enmity and provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for committing a terrorist act and for being member of a terror gang.