Hindu fanatic hacks, burns Muslim labourer
NEW DELHI – Indian police on Thursday arrested a Hindu man over the murder of a Muslim labourer after identifying him from a video of the brutal killing that went viral and has sparked widespread outrage.
The footage shows a man hitting labourer Afrazul Khan with a pickaxe and a machete before pouring kerosene over his body and setting it alight.
Afterwards the attacker can be heard warning against so-called “love jihad”, a term used by religious radicals in India to accuse Muslims of marrying Hindu women in order to convert them.
The killing occurred in western Rajasthan state, which has seen a series of vigilante attacks on Muslims in recent months.
Most of the attacks have been related to the transporting of cows, which Hindus consider sacred, by so-called “cow protection” groups who roam highways inspecting livestock trucks.
The state’s police chief OP Galhotra told reporters the suspect had been charged with murder, calling it a “brutal crime”.
Police have also detained the suspect’s 14-year-old nephew, who they say recorded the killing.
In a second video, the man is seen justifying the incident to “protect the honour of Hindus against Muslims”.
Internet services have been suspended in parts of the state and people have been urged to stop sharing the video. Police have been deployed in large numbers to keep the peace. It’s not clear when the attack happened.
Religious conversion has become a flashpoint issue for Hindu nationalists in recent years.
Last month, thousands of copies of a controversial booklet were distributed to students at an event in Rajasthan warning Hindu girls of “love jihad”.
In April a 20-year-old Muslim man was lynched in eastern Jharkhand state for dating a Hindu woman.
Critics say vigilantes have been emboldened since the election of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014.
Senior police official Anand Srivastava told BBC that the man had shared several “hateful” videos on social media. He added that police believed the accused and his victim did not know each other and had no history of animosity.
The victim, Mohammad Afrazul, who worked near the city of Udaipur, had been living there for more than 10 years.
“We have found that nobody from Shambu Lal’s family had an inter-religious marriage. He has used inflammatory statements in these videos. To avoid any violence, we have been organising meetings between the two communities,” Srivastava added.