Hindu dies amid religious tension in India

Sheikh Saaliq and Krutika PathiPress Association
Indian police control a crowd during a protest over the killing of a Hindu tailor in Udaipur city.
Camera IconIndian police control a crowd during a protest over the killing of a Hindu tailor in Udaipur city. Credit: AP

Tensions are high in India's western Udaipur city a day after police arrested two Muslim men accused of cutting a Hindu tailor's throat in a brutal attack.

Kanhaiya Lal was stabbed multiple times inside his shop by two men wielding cleavers, who also filmed the attack and posted it online, police said, warning that the incident could inflame religious tensions and lead to violence.

The video showed the tailor taking measurements of one assailant before being attacked from behind and stabbed in the throat with a cleaver.

TV reports showed film of Lal lying on the ground with his throat slit.

The two men later claimed responsibility for the killing in another video and accused Lal of blasphemy. They also threatened to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the same manner, brandishing the bloodstained weapons they used to attack the tailor.

Local media reported that the victim had purportedly shared a social media post supporting a suspended spokesman for Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party who made controversial remarks on the Prophet Mohammad last month.

The killing comes after months of rising tensions between Hindus and Muslims, as well as a spate of attacks by Hindu nationalists on minority groups - especially Muslims - who have been targeted for everything from their food and clothing style to interfaith marriages.

More recently, Muslim homes have also been demolished using bulldozers in some Indian states, in what critics call a growing pattern of "bulldozer justice" against the minority group.

These tensions escalated in May when two spokesmen from Modi's party made speculative remarks that were seen as insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad and his wife Aisha.

Both were later suspended by the prime minister's party after it led to a severe diplomatic backlash for India from many Muslim-dominated countries.

The controversy also led to protests in India that turned violent in some places after demonstrators pelted stones at police. At least two people were killed.

Police said both accused were arrested within hours of Lal's death, but, in a bid to calm frayed nerves in parts of the city, authorities suspended internet services in Rajasthan state and banned large gatherings. Authorities also rushed additional police into the city to counter any religious unrest.

India's home ministry has dispatched a team of its anti-terror agency to Rajasthan to investigate whether the killing had any links to terrorist groups. So far, the state police have not charged the two arrested men with terrorism.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot pledged a speedy investigation into Lal's killing. He said the criminals will be punished and urged people not to share the video on social media because of its highly inflammatory content.

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