Indian police arrested two men on Tuesday after they allegedly beheaded a Hindu tailor on camera over his support online for Nupur Sharma — the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) former official whose derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) earlier this month sparked global protests.
Authorities in the western city of Udaipur shut down the internet and restricted gatherings after the gory video of the attack was posted online drawing huge numbers of viewers.
Sharma, a spokeswoman for the right-wing BJP until her sacking this month, sparked a furore in the Islamic world when she made a disrespectful comment on the Prophet on a TV show.
The remarks sparked widespread protests in India and abroad, with Muslims demanding she be severely punished, and the row has since sparked violence in Udaipur.
“Both the accused in the killing have been arrested and we will ensure strict punishment and speedy justice,” Ashok Gehlot, chief minister in the state of Rajasthan, where Udaipur is located, said on Twitter.
Gehlot appealed to people to stay calm and not share the video as it would “serve the attackers' motive of creating discord in society”.
Rana Ayyub, an independent Indian journalist and defender of women's rights, termed the incident "triggering and most barbaric".
She called upon the authorities that the perpetrators needed to be brought to book and be given the strictest punishment possible.
Another journalist, Geeta Mohan, said the "religious extremists" involved in the murder should be brought to book.
She urged people to demonstrate patience and "let the law take its course".
According to local media, the victim was a tailor who shared a post supporting Sharma about 10 days ago and had since received death threats.
The assailants came to his shop posing as customers before attacking him with large knives.
Authorities rushed additional police into Udaipur on Tuesday to counter any religious unrest.
Sharma has not been seen in public since her remarks sparked uproar and embroiled India in a diplomatic storm, with the governments of nearly 20 countries calling in Indian envoys for an explanation.
The row followed anger across the Muslim world in 2020 after French President Emmanuel Macron defended the right of a satirical magazine to publish caricatures of the Holy Prophet.
French teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in October 2020 by a Chechen refugee after showing blasphemous cartoons to his class in a lesson on free speech.