Prohibitory orders have been imposed in Rajasthan for a month, and Internet services cut for 24 hours across the state, after two men hacked a tailor to death inside his shop in Udaipur on Tuesday — and posted a video online of the incident claiming it was in retaliation for the victim sharing remarks made by BJP’s Nupur Sharma on the Prophet.
The police identified the victim as Kanhaiya Lal. His body was removed from the spot only late at night after protesters stalled the authorities while demanding action and compensation for his family.
The assailants identified themselves in another video as Mohammad Riyaz and Ghouse Mohammad, boasted about the “beheading” — and issued death threats to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sharma.
Riyaz and Mohammad, both residents of Udaipur, were arrested from Bhim in Rajsamand district.
Just In: Following the Udaipur hacking of a tailor, internet suspended in all of Rajasthan for 24 hours, statewide section 144 imposed for a month#UdaipurHorror@IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/KH3STGE3Hf
— Hamza Khan (@Hamzwa) June 28, 2022
The incident triggered arson and protests in Udaipur, prompted the Union Home Ministry to send a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to the city to “explore” if there was a “terror angle”, and led to security concerns in other states such as Maharashtra.
The video of the incident posted by the assailants shows Lal, who ran Supreme Tailors in Udaipur’s Hathi Pole locality, taking measurements of one of them who later identified himself as Riyaz. Moments later, it shows the man attacking the tailor on his neck with a cleaver even as the victim asks: “Kya hua? Batao toh sahi (What happened? Tell me)”.
According to the police, Lal had claimed earlier that his son had “mistakenly” posted an “objectionable comment” on Facebook while playing a game on his phone. He also claimed that he had no knowledge of the post until some local residents questioned him.
“This murder has been committed for ideological reasons, in the name of religion. The NIA will explore if there is any angle of terrorism and provide whatever assistance required to the state police,” a senior Central Government official said. The NIA can take over such cases only after laws related to terrorism, or other offences as mentioned in its schedule, are invoked.
Talking to media at Jodhpur airport https://t.co/JCW5AW3XTa
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) June 28, 2022
Rajasthan ADG (Law and Order) Hawa Singh Ghumaria said an additional 600 police personnel were being rushed to the spot, including Additional ADGs Janga Sriniwas and M N Dinesh, apart from 30 Rajasthan Police Service officers.
State officials said that an SIT has also been constituted with top officers, including ADG (ATS, SOG) Ashok Rathore and IG (ATS) Prafulla Kumar, an SP and an Additional SP, to probe the incident.
ADG Ghumaria said that a “statewide alert has been issued, and we have asked all SPs and IGs to increase the mobility of forces in their respective areas and deploy officers in the field, too”. Apart from prohibitory orders under CrPC 144, a curfew has been imposed in seven police station limits of Udaipur district.
Taking to Twitter, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot condemned the “heinous murder”, and said “strict action will be taken against all the criminals involved in this incident” and that “the police will go to the bottom of the crime”.
Later, speaking to reporters in Jodhpur, Gehlot said the incident was “beyond imagination”. “It is not a small incident, the manner in which it has been committed, it is beyond imagination, beyond imagination that a person can commit such an act. No condemnation is enough,” he said.
Calling on the Prime Minister to issue an appeal for peace, he said: “I believe there is a need to improve the atmosphere, there is an atmosphere of tension all over the country.”
BJP state president Satish Poonia said Riyaz’s “terrorist links should be investigated”. “What kind of government is this Ashok ji, where Kanhaiya Lal does not have the freedom to support anyone but Mohammad Riyaz has the freedom to kill? Riyaz has also shown violent feelings towards the Prime Minister,” Poonia tweeted.
The BJP had suspended Nupur Sharma, who was a party spokesperson at the time, for her comments and expelled another party member Naveen Kumar Jindal following widespread condemnation from a host of countries, including those from the Gulf.
In a statement issued at the time, the BJP had said that it “respects all religions” and is “strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion”.
(With Deeptiman Tiwary)