After social media furore over a horrifying video that shows a man being assaulted with axe repetitively and then burnt alive in Rajasamand district of Rajasthan, for allegedly committing "love jihad", police have arrested the main accused.
A Muslim labourer hailing from Malda in West Bengal, Afrazul was hacked and then burnt alive over an alleged affair allegedly by Shambhulal Regar. Police has also detained eight other persons who allegedly videotaped the killing and shared it on the social media. A special investigation team has been set up for investigation in the case, according to Rajasthan government.
Afrazul, according to his neighbours in Saiyadpur, over 325 kms from Kolkata, was a god-fearing man who had no bad record in his name there. At Afrazul’s home relatives have gathered in mourning soon after they received a call from the Rajasthan Police on Wednesday.
The video shows the perpetrator hitting the man with an agricultural tool, and then pouring kerosene on his body and burning him alive. Raigar is seen warning that those indulging in 'love jihad' will meet the same fate. In another video, Raigar is seen justifying the act as an endeavour to save a girl from 'love jihad' besides alleging that Muslims have been damaging cultural heritage of Mewar.
Seeking support of people, the accused also invoked Maharana Pratap and stressed on driving Muslims out of Mewar. “Even 25 years after the demolition of Babri mosque, nothing has been done so far,” he can be heard saying in the video.
The incident came a few days after BJP head Amit Shah talked about ‘love jihad’ in an election rally in Gujarat. “We want those who killed my husband so brutally and showed it to the world be hanged. I want Insaaf (justice). He was only killed because he was a Muslim,” Gul Bahar Bibi, told The Indian Express.
“We even spoke to him on Tuesday. He calls us everyday. We do not know what love jihad is. He has grandchildren. They butchered my father like animals before setting him on fire. I want those who did that to suffer in the same manner. I have seen the video and the cries of my helpless father while he was being killed,” Rejina Khatun daughter of the victim was quoted as saying by the daily.
It reported that Afrazul, father of three girls was scheduled to get back home later this month to arrange for the wedding of his youngest daughter. “According to family members, for the past 12 years, Afrazul has been working as an unskilled labourer in Rajasthan. Every two months he returns home. He has a small plot of land which is not enough to fend for his family,” the report said.
“There is a conspiracy and big people are involved. What can a labourer do? The manner in which the crime is highlighted on social media shows that there is a deep conspiracy and big people are involved. We have relatives in Rajasthan who are at the police station now,” Zeenat Khan, the Afrazul’s niece told the daily.
“Ethics of journalism don’t allow me to share these pictures and videos. But I could not hold my self back. Those who thrive on communal politics at the cost of constitution, ask them, if it continued, who will ber secure in this country,” wrote Mohammad Anas, claiming that communal rants on media, social media and political sphere have been sowing the seeds of hatred among ordinary people of the country.
Reacting to the gory incident, social media users accused Rajasthan government and BJP for encouraging communal hatred against minority community.
On 19 November, a controversial booklet and a pamphlet warning Hindu girls of 'love jihad' were allegedly distributed at a stall in an Hindu spiritual and service fair in Jaipur, prompting the police to order an inquiry. The pamphlets, carrying a picture of a Bollywood actress, warned the people against 'love jihad' and also claimed that two Muslim actors had left their Hindu wives.
Amid claims that the material was handed out at a stall of Bajrang Dal, its coordinator Ashok Singh had said that it was not distributed from their stall.
Demanding resignation of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, PUCL-Rajasthan president Kavita Srivastava said, “This is fourth lynching of a Muslim in the past nine months in the state. These are hate crimes targeting Muslims.”
She added: “Pehlu Khan was assaulted by cow vigilantes on April 1 and he died on April 3 in Behror, Alwar; Zafar Khan was killed on June 16 in Pratapgarh town in the name of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan. Similarly, Umar Khan was killed on November 10 in Govindgarh tehsil of Alwar by cow vigilantes and police.”
(With agency inputs)