MUMBAI (Reuters) – Fearing outbreaks of religious violence, police in India’s Rajasthan state banned public gatherings and suspended internet services a day after two Muslims posted a video claiming responsibility for the murder of a Hindu .
“We have strict orders to prevent any form of protest or demonstration planned to condemn the killing,” Hawa Singh Ghumaria, a senior police officer in northwestern state, told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that the crime had sent “shockwaves across the country”. “
Brandishing a meat cleaver, two bearded men said in the video that they were avenging an insult to the Prophet Muhammad caused by the victim.
They also alluded to Nupur Sharma, a former spokeswoman for the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose remarks about the prophet earlier this month sparked national and international outrage.
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Ghumaria described the bloody attack on Kanhaiya Lal at his tailor shop in the city of Udaipur as “an act of terror”, and said two suspects were being questioned by federal investigators.
Two assailants slit Lal’s head and throat in an attack as he took action, according to Bhawarlal Thoda, a city administrator in Udaipur.
According to Thoda, the tailor was arrested for a social media post in support of the BJP spokeswoman which was traced to his cell phone, and that after being released Lal told police on June 15 that he was being threatened by a group.
Authorities said they suspended internet services in several parts of Rajasthan to prevent the broadcast of the video shared by the accused.
“The mood is tense and almost all stores are closed today,” Thoda said. The city of around half a million people is one of the desert state’s top tourist attractions and is known for its luxury hotels, including the famous Taj Lake Palace.
In another video clip posted online, one of the attackers also threatened Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying their blade would find him too.
India has a horrific history of religious violence, and thousands have been killed since the country gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
But Modi’s pursuit of a “Hindu first” agenda since coming to power in 2014 has stoked tensions in a country where Muslims make up about 13% of its 1.4 billion people.
Earlier this month, the BJP suspended Sharma from the party and expelled another official, but the fury has not died down.
“We can only urge people to stop sharing the video of the heinous crime committed in Rajasthan and stop the rising communal tensions,” said a senior BJP official in New Delhi, requesting anonymity to avoid to be drawn into the controversy.
Prime Minister Modi did not comment on the matter.
(Reporting by Rupam Jain; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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