Fearing outbreaks of religious violence, police in the Indian state of Rajasthan have banned public gatherings and shut down internet services a day after two Muslims posted a video claiming responsibility for the killing of a Hindu tailor in the city of Udaipur.
Two suspects were questioned Wednesday by federal investigators, while state police were on the lookout for any unrest in the northwestern state.
“We have strict orders to prevent any protest or demonstration planned to condemn the murder,” Hawa Singh Ghumaria, a senior police officer in Rajasthan, told Reuters, adding that the crime had “shock waves across the country”. sent.
Brandishing a meat cleaver, two bearded men said in the video that they were retaliating against an insult to the Prophet Mohammed inflicted by the victim.
They also alluded to Nupur Sharma, a former spokesperson for the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose remarks about the prophet earlier this month sparked domestic and international outrage.
India’s Home Secretary Amit Shah said in a tweet that federal police had taken over the investigation into “the brutal murder” of Kanhaiya Lal Teli, giving the victim’s full name.
“Any organization’s involvement and international ties will be thoroughly explored,” Shah said.
Late Wednesday, a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry dismissed reports in some Indian media linking the suspects with a Pakistan-based organization.
The two attackers had slit Teli’s head and throat in an attack while the tailor was taking measurements, according to Bhawarlal Thoda, a city administrator in Udaipur.
According to Thoda, the tailor had been detained via a social media post in support of the BJP spokesperson traced to his cell phone, and that after his release on June 15, Teli told police that he was being threatened by a group .
“Terrorists executed my father in the most shocking way. The country must stand behind our family to demand justice,” the victim’s son, Yash, told Reuters after his father’s body was cremated on Wednesday.
He said the guilty should be tried and sentenced to death, and denied that his father made comments that would be offensive to other religions.
Politicians and prominent Islamic preachers condemned the murder.
“The incident has shocked followers of Islam. The heinous act of two men is absolutely un-Islamic,” said Maulana Ahmed Siddiqui, a Muslim cleric in Udaipur.
Authorities said they had shut down internet services in several parts of Rajasthan to prevent the video from spreading.
“The mood is tense and almost all shops are closed today,” Thoda said. The city of about half a million inhabitants is one of the main tourist attractions in the desert state and is known for its luxury hotels, including the well-known Taj Lake Palace.
In another video clip posted online, one of the attackers also threatened the prime minister, Narendra Modi, and said their knife would find him too.
The federal government made a request on social media late on Wednesday to immediately remove any content that encourages, glorifies or justifies the murder.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement that the removal was necessary “to prevent incitement and disturbance to public order and to restore public peace and harmony”.
Hardline Hindu organizations staged protests in the capital, New Delhi, to condemn Teli’s murder and more protests were planned for Thursday.
India has a long history of religious violence and thousands of people have died since the country gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
Modi’s push for a ‘Hindu first’ agenda since he came to power in 2014 has heightened tensions in a country where Muslims make up about 13% of its 1.4 billion population.
Earlier this month, the BJP suspended Sharma from the party and expelled another official, but the furor has not died down.
Modi has not commented on the incident in Udaipur. But former Rajasthan Prime Minister Vasundhara Raje, who belongs to the BJP, blamed the Congress party, which now runs the state, for the “communal frenzy and violence” that has erupted there.
Raje said, “Such acts can take place because the state government is tacitly supporting criminals.”
While Congress has championed secular values in India since independence, the BJP has labeled it a pro-Islamist party to pull Hindus away from the main opposition.
Rajasthan, with a population of about 69 million people, is only one of two Indian states where Congress has a majority in the state legislature and elections are slated to be held next year.