Police officers in the Indian state of Rajasthan on June 29 following the killing of a tailor allegedly by two Muslim men. Himanshu SHARMA / AFP
Violence erupted in an Indian city on Tuesday after two men hacked a Hindu tailor to death on camera and threatened to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Two men from India’s Muslim minority were arrested on Tuesday hours following the killing in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. In The attackers said in a video it was revenge for the victim’s alleged support for Islamophobic comments by a former Indian official.
The video of the killing, filmed by one of the assailants, shows the unsuspecting victim, Kanhaiya Lal, taking the measurements of his accomplice minutes before he slits the tailor’s throat. According to police, the attackers attempted to behead the victim but failed to fully sever his head from his neck.The episode has triggered national outrage and public unrest in the city of Udaipur, where the crime took place, with reported arson attacks and mob violence targeting a mosque.The victim’s body was taken in by the authorities late Tuesday after demonstrators demanding justice and compensation for his family blocked law enforcement’s access to the corpse outside the tailor shop. Police have identified the two suspects and are treating the crime as an act of terror, dispatching anti-terror investigators to the area. Officials are also investigating what they say could be the suspects’ potential links to ISIS. State authorities have suspended internet services for 24 hours and ordered a month-long ban on large gatherings. About 600 police officials have been deployed to the area to maintain order.In another video posted after footage of the murder, the attackers boasted about the killing, claiming that they had “beheaded” the victim in retaliation to his sharing incendiary remarks against the Prophet Muhammad made by former ruling party spokesperson Nupur Sharma.The men also threatened Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the video, with one of them saying, “If this knife ever leaves my hand it’ll surely land on your neck.”
Sharma, a spokesperson of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party, was suspended earlier this month after her disparaging comments about the Prophet Muhammad sparked protests by Muslims in the country and several Muslim-majority nations.Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia condemned the spokesperson’s remarks, which parroted a common misconception that the Prophet Muhammad’s youngest wife was six years of age at the time of their marriage. The claim has been heavily disputed by Islamic historians, who say that she was 18 to 21 at the time. In response to the diplomatic outcry, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party denounced Sharma’s comments and disciplined her.According to police, the victim, Kanhaiya Lal, was arrested earlier this month for “propagating objectionable remarks made against Prophet Muhammad and released on bail.”Police said that the tailor had alleged that his son had “mistakenly” posted an “objectionable comment” on Facebook while playing a game on his phone. He later complained of receiving death threats and sought police protection. Hawasingh Ghumaria, a senior police officer in Rajasthan, said the matter was resolved between Lal and members of the Muslim community who threatened him. But he said the police would now investigate how the dispute escalated, and have suspended an officer for negligence.Follow Rimal Farrukh on Twitter.