FO rejects Indian insinuations over Udaipur killing

Published June 30, 2022
Udaipur (Rajasthan): People carry the body of a Hindu man for his cremation, a day after two men posted a video claiming responsibility for slaying him.—Reuters
Udaipur (Rajasthan): People carry the body of a Hindu man for his cremation, a day after two men posted a video claiming responsibility for slaying him.—Reuters

NEW DELHI: A police constable was critically injured in a clash which broke out on Wednesday between cops and protesters in Bhim town of Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district following protests over the recent killing of a Hindu tailor, allegedly by two Muslim men.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Office “categorically rejected” Indian insinuations linking a Pakistani organisation to the suspects involved in the alleged murder of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur.

Reports said that Cons­table Sandeep Chaudhary was in critical condition while police personnel have been stationed at the hospital in large numbers. To disperse the crowd of protesters, the police had fired more than 10 rounds in the air.

Several people were also injured in the subsequent baton charge. The situation in Bhim remains tense and heavy deployment of police teams has been carried out to ensure there are no further altercations.

Two men allegedly murdered the Hindu tailor in Udaipur on Tuesday and posted videos of the gruesome act online. They claimed to be avenging an insult to Islam after the victim allegedly made social media posts in support of suspended Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma.

India Today TV said that the murder followed a post put up by the shopkeeper’s eight-year-old son in support of BJP leader Nupur Sharma.

Police arrested the two accused in the Bheem area of Rajsamand district on Tuesday night after they were caught trying to flee, reports said.

Indian media reports quoted police as saying that an initial investigation revealed that one of the two prime accused had links with the Karachi-based Dawat-i-Islami organisation and had visited Pakistan in 2014.

However, this impression was denied by Pakistan Foreign Office, which said in a statement:

“We have seen reports in a segment of the Indian media referring to investigations into the murder case in Udaipur, mischievously seeking to link the accused individuals, Indian nationals, to an organisation in Pakistan. We categorically reject any such insinuations, which are typical of the BJP-RSS ‘Hindutva’ driven Indian regime’s attempts at maligning Pakistan including by externalising their internal issues through pointing fingers towards Pakistan,” it added.

“Such malicious attempts will not succeed in misleading the people, either in India or abroad,” the FO said.

Lockdown in Udaipur

Hundreds gathered outside Lal’s house ahead of his funeral on Wednesday, a day after several hundred protested and chanted Hindu slogans in response to the killing.

People on motorcycles and cars waved saffron flags — the colour of the Hindu faith — and shouted slogans demanding the death penalty for the accused.

“Hang them, hang them. My husband has gone,” the man’s distraught widow told reporters.

“If the law doesn’t want to do anything, give them to us so that we can kill them,” said another relative.

The two young men were arrested on Tuesday as they attempted to flee Udaipur by motorbike, news reports said.

The central National Investigation Agency (NIA) said that the men circulated the video “in order to trigger panic and strike terror among the masses across the country”.

To prevent potential sectarian violence, authorities deployed 600 extra police and put the city of around 450,000 people under curfew, cutting mobile internet access there and in other parts of Rajasthan state.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot appealed to people not to share the video as it would “serve the attackers’ motive of creating discord in society”.

“The involvement of any organisation and international links will be thoroughly investigated,” Indian Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted.

Indian Muslim organisations condemned the killing, but Surendra Kumar Jain from the far-right Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad said that many Muslim leaders have “insulted Hindu beliefs”.

“You should be afraid of the day when Hindus too start giving reply to the insult in the same coin,” Jain said in a video message.

A demonstration in New Delhi called by a far-right Hindu group drew around 100 people shouting slogans.

Diplomatic storm

The derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) by BJP spokeswoman Nupur Sharma at a TV debate in late May sparked protests that turned violent in some parts of India and demonstrations across the Islamic world.

She was sacked by the party after her comments, which prompted the governments of nearly 20 countries to summon their Indian envoys to express their displeasure.

Lal’s wife told broadcaster NDTV that on June 10 her husband was arrested over a social media post supporting Sharma and released on bail a day later.

Five days later the father of two said he had received death threats but on Tuesday returned to work in his shop, she said.

The purported video of the killing — which police have not yet confirmed is genuine — showed Lal measuring one of the men for new clothes before he and his accomplice attacked him.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2022

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