Indian city tense after Hindu man killed over prophet remarks row

Police arrest two Muslim men for allegedly beheading the tailor on camera over his post supporting ex-BJP official’s comments on the Prophet Muhammad.

Two Muslim men have been arrested in India’s Udaipur city in the western state of Rajasthan for allegedly beheading a Hindu tailor over his support online for a former ruling party official whose remarks about Prophet Muhammad sparked global protests.

Mobile internet services and large gatherings remained restricted in Udaipur on Wednesday, a day after the two men killed the Hindu man, Kanhaiya Lal.

Lal was stabbed multiple times inside his tailoring shop on Tuesday by the two cleaver-wielding men who also filmed the attack. The duo accused Lal of blasphemy in the video.

The two men later claimed responsibility for the killing in another video and allegedly threatened to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the same manner.

TV reports aired video of Lal lying on the ground with his throat slit. Police said both accused were arrested within hours of the incident.

“Both the accused in the killing have been arrested and we will ensure strict punishment and speedy justice,” Ashok Gehlot, chief minister of Rajasthan, said on Twitter.

Gehlot appealed to people to stay calm and not share the video as it would “serve the attackers’ motive of creating discord in society”.

Police stand guard as people gather on road after Lal’s killing in Udaipur [ANI/Handout via Reuters]

Asaduddin Owaisi, a member of parliament, condemned the “horrible” murder.

“One cannot take law in their own hands. It is a horrible thing to do. It’s inhuman,” he told Al Jazeera.

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, a Muslim religious organisation, said the Udaipur incident is “barbaric, uncivilised and there is no room for justification of violence in Islam”.

“We strongly condemn it. No citizen should take law in his own hands. Let the law prevail,” the organisation posted on Twitter.

Authorities rushed additional police into Udaipur on Tuesday to counter any religious unrest.

India’s home ministry has dispatched a team of its anti-terror agency to Rajasthan to investigate whether the killing had any links to terrorist groups. So far, the state police have not charged the two arrested men with terrorism.

In 2017, a Hindu man in Rajasthan brutally killed a Muslim labourer in a religious attack and shared a video of the victim being hacked to death and then set on fire.

According to local media, Lal had shared a social media post 10 days ago supporting Nupur Sharma, the suspended spokeswoman for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who made controversial remarks on the Prophet Muhammad and his wife Aisha on a TV show in May.

Another BJP official, Naveen Kumar Jindal, supported Sharma’s statements and made more anti-Islam remarks in his tweets, sparking a furore in India and many Muslim nations.

The BJP, in damage control mode, suspended Sharma, expelled Jindal and issued a rare statement, saying it “respects all religions”.

The controversy led to nationwide protests in India which turned violent in some places. At least two people were killed and many houses of Muslims were bulldozed after they allegedly pelted police with stones.

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