Police in Northwest India ban public gatherings and suspend internet after Hindu death

MUMBAI, June 29 (Reuters) – 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 killing a Hindu man.

“We have strict orders to prevent any protest or demonstration planned to condemn the murder,” Hawa Singh Ghumaria, a senior police officer in the northwestern state, told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that the crime has “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.

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They also alluded to Nupur Sharma, a former spokeswoman for the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose remarks about the prophet sparked domestic and international outrage earlier this month.

Ghumaria described the bloody attack on Kanhaiya Lal at his tailor’s shop in the city of Udaipur as “an act of terror”, and said two suspects were being questioned by federal investigators.

Two assailants slit Lal’s head and throat during an attack while he 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 spokeswoman traced to his mobile phone, and that after his release on June 15, Lal told police that he was being threatened by a group .

Authorities said they had shut down internet services in various parts of Rajasthan to prevent the spread of the video shared by the accused.

“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 top tourist attractions in the desert state and is known for its luxury hotels, including the famous Taj Lake Palace.

In another video clip posted online, one of the attackers also threatened Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying their knife would also find him.

India has a horrific history of religious violence and thousands of people have died since the country gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

But 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.

“We can only urge people to stop sharing the video of the heinous crime committed in Rajasthan and to end the mounting tensions in the communities,” a senior BJP official said in New York. Delhi, who requested anonymity to avoid getting involved in the controversy.

Prime Minister Modi has not commented on the matter.

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Reporting by Rupam Jain; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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