Police in India suspend internet, ban public gatherings, after Hindu man was slain

By Orowo Victoria Ojieh with agency report

Fearing an outbreak of non-secular violence, police within the Indian state of Rajasthan banned public gatherings and suspended web providers a day after two Muslims posted a video claiming they have been responsible for the killing of a Hindu man.

Tensions are high in India’s western Udaipur city on Wednesday, a day after police arrested two Muslim men accused of slitting a Hindu tailor’s throat in a brutal attack that intensifies a dramatic escalation of communal violence in a country divided by deep religious polarization.

The Hindu man, Kanhaiya Lal, was stabbed multiple times on Tuesday inside his tailoring shop by two cleaver-wielding men 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 he attacks Lal from behind and stabs at his throat with a cleaver.

TV reports aired a video 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 blood-stained weapons they used to attack Lal.

“We are issuing strict orders to prevent any form of protests or demonstrations planned to denounce the killing,” Hawa Singh Gumaria, a senior police officer within the Northwest State instructed.

Gumariya described the bloody attack on Kanhai Lal at his tailoring shop in Udaipur, as an “act of terrorism” and said federal investigators were questioning two suspects.

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

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The authorities said they had suspended internet services in several parts of Rajasthan to prevent the circulation of the video posted by the accused.

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.

These tensions escalated in May when two spokespeople 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 Modi’s party after it led to 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.

Attacks on people accused of alleged blasphemy are common in neighbouring Muslim majority countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. But in India, where religious tensions often boil over into sporadic riots and deadly protests, incidents of brutal killings of this nature are rare.

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