A security official of the Indian railway shot dead his senior and three Muslim passengers in an apparent “hate crime”, reported local media outlet The Wire.
“A Railway Protection Force (RPF) jawan (officer) on Monday morning (July 31) shot dead four people who were on a train near the Palghar railway station in Maharashtra. Among those killed was an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) and three passengers — all Muslim men with beards — across nine carriages,” the report stated, adding that the culprit was arrested.
It said the culprit was identified as RPF Constable Chetan Singh. Quoting other Indian media outlets, the report added that he first shot his senior officer before moving on to the passengers.
The Hindustan Times reported that after killing the fourth victim, he “began a short hate-filled rant against Muslims that he asked the bystanders to record for the media’s consumption”.
The Wire added that according to a purported video of the culprit speaking after killing the fourth victim, he could be heard saying: “They (Muslims) operate from Pakistan, this is what the media of the country is showing, they have found out, they know everything, their leaders are there … If you want to vote, if you want to live in India, then I say, Modi and Yogi, these are the two, and your Thackeray.”
According to the report, the incident was allegedly triggered by an argument between the suspect and his senior officer.
The RPF, the report stated, would compensate the heirs and families of the victims.
Conspiracy theories that allege a Muslim plot to secure the faith’s numerical supremacy in India have been a staple of Hindu nationalist ideologues for years. Similar theories of immigrants and minorities “replacing” majority populations have also been embraced by the far-right in other countries.
At times the theories have been indulged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has come to dominate national politics partly through its muscular appeals to the country’s Hindu majority.
Raqib Hameed Naik, the founder of Hindutva Watch, a group that monitors reports of attacks on Indian minorities, had said during Modi’s visit to the United States in June that “Modi’s comments [that there is no religious discrimination by his government] is a complete lie. India has become a black hole for religious minorities.”