Lockdown in Indian city after gruesome sectarian killing
UDAIPUR, June 29: Hundreds of police were deployed in an Indian city on Wednesday after the murder of a Hindu tailor allegedly by two Muslims in revenge for inflammatory comments about Islam by a ruling party member.
The attack -- in which the men seemingly tried to behead their victim -- in the western city of Udaipur was captured on video that went viral and has gripped a country with a long history of communal violence.
The video showed Kanhaiya Lal being attacked in his shop, with further footage showing the two accused purportedly brandishing large knives and threatening to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
They then justified their murder as a response to Lal's alleged support of comments about the Prophet Mohammed by a spokeswoman for Modi's Hindu nationalist BJP party -- remarks that have triggered protests across parts of the Islamic world in recent weeks.
Hundreds gathered outside Lal's house ahead of his funeral on Wednesday, a day after several hundred protested and chanted Hindu slogans in response to the killing.
People on motorcycles and cars waved saffron flags -- the colour of the Hindu faith -- and shouted slogans demanding the death penalty for the accused.
"Hang them, hang them. My husband has gone," the man's distraught widow told reporters.
"If the law doesn't want to do anything, give them to us so that we can kill them," said another relative.
The two young men were arrested on Tuesday as they attempted to flee Udaipur by motorbike, news reports said.
The central National Investigation Agency (NIA) said that the men circulated the video "in order to trigger panic and strike terror among the masses across the country."
To prevent potential sectarian violence, authorities deployed 600 extra police and put the city of around 450,000 people under curfew, cutting mobile internet access there and in other parts of Rajasthan state.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot appealed to people not to share the video as it would "serve the attackers' motive of creating discord in society".
"The involvement of any organisation and international links will be thoroughly investigated," Indian Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted.
On social media, members of the ruling BJP party and supporters depicted the killing as an attack on all Hindus, with thousands of tweets carrying hashtags like #IslamicTerrorismInIndia.
Indian Muslim organisations condemned the killing, but Surendra Kumar Jain from the far-right Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad said that many Muslim leaders have "insulted Hindu beliefs."
"You should be afraid of the day when Hindus too start giving reply to the insult in the same coin," Jain said in a video message.
A demonstration in New Delhi called by a far-right Hindu group drew around 100 people shouting slogans. -AFP