As the country's attention was riveted to the major political crisis in Maharashtra, an Udaipur-style murder of a chemist in Amravati, who allegedly shared a social media post supporting suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, got eclipsed before hogging the spotlight on Saturday after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) handed over the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
A week after the incident, which took place on June 21, Amravati's Independent MP Navneet Rana shot off a letter to the Union Home Minister accusing the local police of attempting to suppress the incident as 'dacoity', and demanded that the probe should be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the NIA.
Earlier, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Anil S. Bonde also sought a thorough probe into the matter.
On Saturday, the Centre asked the NIA to take over the case even as the Amravati police nabbed all the six prime accused, including the alleged mastermind.
On June 21, a veterinary chemist of Amravati, Umesh Prahladrao Kolhe, was brutally killed with his throat slashed for allegedly endorsing Nupur Sharma's remarks on Prophet Muhammed that snowballed into a major political issue last month.
Comparisons are now being drawn between Kolhe's killing and the dastardly hacking of an Udaipur tailor, Kanhaiya Lal, in similar circumstances on June 28. While the City Kotwali police station is probing the matter, Amravati police Commissioner Arti Singh said that till Saturday morning, five persons were nabbed while the sixth absconding accused was arrested later in the day.
As per the probe, Kolhe, 54, shut his pharmacy, Amit Medical Stores, to return home at around 10.15 pm on June 21 on his two-wheeler, with his 27-year-old son Sanket and his wife Vaishnavi following on another vehicle.
After crossing the Prabhat Chowk, when they reached the near-desolate MCNH School vicinity, two unidentified men on a motorcycle suddenly accosted Kolhe and forced him to a stop.
One of them whipped out a knife, repeatedly stabbed him in the neck even as another accomplice arrived, and after Kolhe collapsed from his bike, the trio escaped into the dark on their motorcycle. Seeing this, Sanket stopped his bike, and with the help of locals, rushed his profusely bleeding father to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries soon afterwards.
The accused who have been arrested in the past 12 days are: Muddasir Ahmed (22), Shahrukh Pathan (25), Abdul Taufiq (24), Shoaib Khan (22), Atib Rashid (22) and Shamim Firoz Ahmed.
The shocking incident was virtually eclipsed by the major political crisis that had erupted in Maharashtra the previous night (June 20), leading to the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government 10 days later.
Central officials said that the conspiracy behind the killing, involvement of organisations or its international ramifications would be probed in detail.
In her letter to Shah, Navneet Rana said that since Kolhe regularly put up pro-Hindu posts on social media, the matter could have links similar to the Udaipur killing.
Without taking names, she accused former Congress Guardian Minister from Amravati district of allegedly pressurising the local police to cover up the incident, and demanded a probe and action even against the city police chief.