The Uttar Pradesh police are questioning the driver of a private vehicle allegedly hired by two suspected killers of Hindutva leader Kamlesh Tiwari to escape from Lakhimpur to Shahjahanpur, sources said on Monday.
Earlier at least six people were arrested in the case.
On a tip off that the two men, who are suspected of actually carried out Tiwari's killing in Lucknow on Friday and have been identified as Sheikh Ashfaqul Hussain and Muinuddin Pathan, were present at Palia in Lakhimpur, an SIT team of UP police rushed to the place, said sources.
But by the time, the police reached there, they came to know that the duo had left for Sahjahanpur in a rented vehicle, said sources.
On this, another SIT team rushed to Shahjahanpu.
The police, however, managed to trace the driver of the vehicle, though it was not immediately known where did they found him -- at Palia in Lakhimpur or Shahjahanpur.
The police are presently questioning the driver, said sources.
The police earlier had recovered a blood-stained saffron kurta and a towel from a Lucknow hotel in which the duo, Hussain and Pathan had checked in on October 17 and had left the hotel next day -- on October 18, the day Tiwari was killed.
The police, meanwhile, have launched a multi-pronged offensive to track the duo, including announcement of a cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the actual killers.
Director General of Police O P Singh announced a reward of Rs 2.50 lakh each for apprehending the two suspects, a senior government official said on Monday.
Earlier the police team reaching Shahjahanpur from Lakhimpur inspected the CCTV forage at the local bus depot there and those installed at a hotel, where the suspects were believed to have stayed, said sources.
At Shahjahanpur, the CCTV footage of some suspected persons moving towards the city was found after which the team carried out raids and searches at a few places, said sources.
At the Shahjahanpur bust depot, the police, besides inspecting the CCTV footage, also spoke to the depot manager and some passengers in a bid to elicit some information about the alleged killers on the run.
Bus station superintendent Sushil Trivedi said the team asked about the CCTV cameras installed on depot premises and also spoke to some passengers.
At Shahjahanpur, the SIT also visited the hotel near the railway station and saw the CCTV footage, official sources said.
"We have been instructed not to speak about the issue," hotel manager Rajendra Kumar said, adding the team saw the CCTV footage of the hotel.
Sources said the police also carried out searches at a few 'madarsas' at Shahjahanpur at night but nothing came out of it.
On Friday, little known Hindutva leader Kamlesh Tewari, 45, was found murdered at his home in the congested Naka Hindola area of the state capital.
Police subsequently recovered a knife and saffron kurta with blood stains lying on the bed in the room of the hotel booked by the suspected killers. A blood-stained towel too was recovered along with a box of a new mobile phone from the room.
At least six persons have been arrested in the case till now.
On Friday night, three men were arrested at Surat by the Gujarat Anti-Terror Squad for their alleged involvement in Tiwari's murder.
The trio arrested in Surat were identified as Faizan Yunus Bhai, Maulana Mohsin Sheikh and Rashid Ahmed Khursheed Ahmed Pathan. They were handed over to Uttar Pradesh police on a 72-hour transit remand by a Surat court on Friday.
Two others were arrested in the case from Bijnor. The duo, identified as local residents Mohammed Mufti Naeem Kazmi and Imam Maulana Anwarul Haq, were booked on murder charge on Friday after Tiwari's wife Kiran named them in her complaint alleging that the duo had announced a bounty of Rs 1.5 crore in 2016 for killing her husband.
A sixth person was arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Squad of Maharashtra police earlier on Saturday from Nagpur and was identified as Sayed Asim Ali, 29. Ali ran hardware business in Nagpur.