In a stomach-turning video that is viral, a man in Rajasthan hacks another man to death and burns the body while keeping up an inflammatory communal rant against “love jihad”, the term used by rightwing groups who accuse Muslim men of drawing Hindu women into relationships and converting them.
Internet has been suspended in Rajsamand – around five hours from state capital Jaipur – to stop the circulation of two video clips posted on WhatsApp by the killer, identified as Shambhu Lal.
Shambhu Lal has been arrested and his 14-year-old nephew, who allegedly filmed the videos, has also been held. The killer’s 11-year-old daughter is seen in one of the videos.
“It is a merciless killing. A normal person wouldn’t do this,” said senior police officer OP Galhotra.
The police believe a half-burnt body they found this morning near a road in Rajsamand could be that of the victim – 45-year-old Mohammad Afrazul, a daily wager from West Bengal. The father of three had worked in Rajasthan for 20 years.
In one of two clips posted online, Shambhu Lal, in a red shirt, white trousers and a white muffler, is seen leading Afrazul to a spot in the woods. The police say Shambhu had claimed to Afrazul that he needed directions.
Shambhu Lal follows him and attacks him repeatedly with a pickaxe. Loud wailing and screams for help are heard as the video becomes increasingly difficult to watch.
When the victim falls silent, Shambhu Lal looks into the camera and launches into a deranged hate speech, declaring that he killed to save a woman from “love jihad”. He takes the blood-soaked axe and strikes at the prone figure once more before setting it on fire.
“If I have to die, I will kill some and die,” he says, making references to Ayodhya, the Padmavati film controversy and the Hindi film PK, which featured a romance between an Indian and a Pakistani. Apparently referring to Hindu-Muslim relationships, he threatens to “find each one of them and kill.”
“It is shocking how he killed the man and made a video of it. The accused has been arrested and a special investigation team (SIT) has been set up…Any person will be disturbed by the video,” state Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said.
Senior police officers have been sent to Rajsamand to prevent any flare-up.
The opposition Congress said the murder on video proves there is no governance in Rajasthan.
“There is no fear of law here, no fear of police… there is no government,” said Congress leader Sachin Pilot, adding, “We must set an example where people must fear that there is a government that will set certain rules.”