As Filmed Murder of Muslim Man in Rajasthan Goes Viral, Official Culture of Impunity Towards Hate Crimes Blamed

A statement by various organisations in Rajasthan has demanded provision of absolute security to all the Muslims in the state.

New Delhi: On December 6, Mohammad Afrazul, a migrant worker from West Bengal was hacked with a cleaver and then set on fire by a man in Rajsamand, Rajasthan.

The alleged assailant has been identified as one Shambhulal Regar, who apparently suspected that Afrazul was in a relationship with a Hindu woman. Videos of the murder, as well as the killer’s speech justifying the act, went viral on social media on Thursday.

In one of the videos, Regar is seen warning Muslims by bringing up the bogey of ‘love jihad‘ and saying: “This is what will happen to you if you do ‘love jihad’ in our country.”

Regar is seen declaring that he killed to save a woman from ‘love jihad’. “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.”

Access to the internet had been suspended in Rajsamand to stop the circulation of the videos.

“It is a merciless killing. A normal person wouldn’t do this,” senior police officer O.P. Galhotra told NDTV.

A joint statement by various social organisations in the state has condemned the killing of Afrazul and demanded that chief minister Vasundhara Raje resign immediately. “There is only one demand, that [she] should resign now. She does not deserve to hold on to the post even for a day in the context of the absolute impunity provided to these killers and their supporters,” the statement signed by Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangatha, Rajasthan Nagrik Manch, Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch, National Federation of Indian Women, All India Democratic Women’s Association among other organisations reads.

The statement has also demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi unambiguously condemn the crime.

Other demands include the immediate arrest of all the killers and attackers in hate crimes cases in Rajasthan and the provision of absolute security to all Muslims in the state. The signatories demand a stop to the culture of violence and hate in the name of religion in the state. The statement also demands a ban on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s hate programme.

Shambhulal’s video of the murder followed by his hate speech, justifying the act, went viral on social media. Credit: Twitter

Pointing out that the Rajsamand hate crime is the fourth in nine months in the state, the statement reads, “Although the police have arrested the murderer and the nephew who had shot the video, but it is important to reach the people who motivated him to carry out this murder”.

Raje late on Thursday condemned the crime, saying, “This is a deplorable act which needs to be condemned in strongest possible terms”. She appreciated the prompt action taken by the police and directed that the criminal be prosecuted in the shortest possible time.

In April this year, Pehlu Khan was stopped and assaulted by self-styled cow vigilantes for “illegally” transporting cattle, even after they told them they had the required permit. Pehlu, along with five other men who were beaten, was admitted to a district hospital where he died two days later.

Two months later, Zafar Hussein was killed after he objected to officials photographing women defecating in the open.

In November, Umer Mohammed and his colleagues were transporting cows when they were attacked by gau rakshaks. Umer was later found dead.

The statement has also demanded that the BJP stop giving protection to the killers. In September, the Rajasthan police had given a clean chit to the six people Pehlu Khan had named before he died.