The Rajasthan Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday denied the Congress allegation that a BJP member was one of the main accused in the killing of Tyler Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur on Tuesday.
Photos of Mohammed Riaz Akhtari with BJP leaders including Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Assembly, Udaipur MLA Gulab Chand Kataria went viral on social media. There were also pictures identifying Akhtari with Udaipur Minority Cell chief Irshad Chainwala as “BJP workers” actively involved in party affairs.
As the controversy over Akhtari being a BJP activist grew, more pictures of him with local BJP leaders and participating in local party events went viral. However, Chainwala has said that he is not related to Akhtari.
“He took a photograph of the garland when he returned from a pilgrimage and was introduced to me by someone else,” he said. When asked if Akhtari was involved in party work, Chainwala said he did not know. However, he was quick to add that Akhtari was not a party worker. Both Chainwala and Akhtari were staying in the Kanji Pir area of the Walled City of Udaipur.
A neighbor of Chainwala, who declined to be identified, said the two knew each other well and Akhtari regularly attended BJP functions. “I cannot say whether he (Akhtari) is an inducted BJP worker or not. But he was very active for the party in the constituency till a few years ago,” he said.
When HT tried to contact Chainwala, it was found that his mobile was switched off and he had left his single room house. He left with his belongings, his neighbors said. Another Udaipur-based BJP minority cell leader Mohammad Tahir, whose pictures of Akhtari have gone viral, also left his Udaipur residence and his mobile phone was switched off.
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On Saturday, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera held a press conference in Delhi and alleged that Akhtari was an active BJP worker and had shared his pictures with Chainwala, Kataria and other BJP leaders from Udaipur. Khera alleged that the reason why the Center entrusted the investigation to the National Investigation Agency was to hide the fact that Akhtari was a BJP worker.
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“We have done our research on the claims of media reports about the link between BJP and Riaz Akhtari and found that he knows many BJP leaders. Four years ago Chainwala shared a picture with Akhtari and two years ago he had pictures with another minority cell leader Mohammad Tahir. Mohammad Tahir identified Akhtari as a Udaipur BJP worker after returning from a religious pilgrimage,” Khera said.
Rajasthan BJP Minority Unit President Sadiq Khan said, “Riyaz Akhtari was never a BJP member. He is nowhere connected with BJP and has no party membership.
He said that BJP is the biggest party and anyone can click pictures with party leaders.
“State Executive Committee member Irshad Chainwala with Riyaz clicked his picture when he returned from Haj or Umrah. They are known to each other but not relatives,” he said.
He alleged that it was an attempt to malign the BJP and a conspiracy.
“They could have gone to one of the party functions with the intention of recceing and clicking photos with local leaders. As it is a common trend to upload photos with leaders or celebrities on Facebook and other social media, they may have uploaded the photo but that does not mean the accused is a BJP member,” he said.
However, the photos were uploaded by Tahir and Chainwala on their Facebook accounts. Chainwala has now locked his Facebook account.
Khan alleged that the Congress wants to blame the transfer to the BJP to divert public attention from the failure of the Ashok Gehlot government, which has done nothing for minorities in the last three-and-a-half years.
On Tuesday, Mohammad Riaz Akhtari and Ghaus Mohammad posted a video on social media where they beheaded tailor Kanhaiya Lal, saying they were retaliating for insulting Islam and stoking communal tension in the Rajasthan city.