Afghan Sufi cleric killed in Maharashtra's Nashik, manhunt for assailants

by IANS |

Nashik, July 6 (IANS) In a shocking crime, a refugee Sufi cleric from Afghanistan was sprayed with bullets in the Yeola town of Maharashtra's Nashik district, police said here on Wednesday.

According to the Investigation Officer, the incident occurred around 7.15 p.m. on Tuesday in an open deserted plot near the MIDC industrial zone in the town.

Preliminary probe revealed that at least four unidentified persons suddenly came there and fired multiple rounds at the Afghan cleric, targeting him in the head and neck, leading to his instant death.

The victim has been identified as Khwaja Sayyed Chishti, 35, a refugee from Afghanistan, popular locally as 'Sufibaba' and used to preach in several religious gatherings or mausoleums.

After committing the crime, the four assailants fled with an SUV parked nearby, reportedly owned by the Chishti, and efforts are on to track it.

Nashik Superintendent of Police (Rural) Sachin Patil said that a case of murder has been registered and investigations were underway to trace the four suspected assailants.

The police officer said that Chishti was an Afghanistan passport holder who had come to India around four years ago and was living legally.

"Initially he was in Delhi, then moved to Karnataka and since recently was living in Maharashtra, having permission from the Centre to stay in the country," said Patil.

The motive behind the ghastly crime -- tentatively suspected to be a property-linked matter -- is being probed, and a manhunt has been launched for the killers and efforts to find the getaway vehicle.

The Yeola Police have formed a special team to probe the incident which has sent shockwaves in the local Muslim communities.

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