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NEW DELHI — A grainy smartphone video reveals the ultimate moments of Kanhaiya Lal Teli’s life: The tailor is seen measuring prospects in his store, however when he turns his again, they all of a sudden assault him.

A second video reveals the aftermath. Brandishing bloodstained cleavers, two males warn Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about inflaming spiritual tensions in India and vow to avenge acts of blasphemy.

Indian authorities on Wednesday voiced fears about spiraling violence after the grisly homicide of the Hindu man — and the chilling movies filmed and posted on-line by his apparently Muslim attackers — despatched shock waves via a rustic already struggling to comprise spiritual tensions.

The killing within the lakeside metropolis of Udaipur is the newest flash level in a month-long controversy that started when a spokeswoman for India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Get together (BJP), Nupur Sharma, criticized the prophet Muhammad for marrying underage ladies. Sharma’s feedback, made throughout a Might 26 look on a TV speak present, have been condemned by greater than a dozen majority-Muslim international locations, however Sharma grew to become a hero to many on India’s proper wing.

Teli’s social media posts supporting Sharma angered two native Muslims, Gaus Mohammad and Riyaz Attari, police officers stated Tuesday as they locked down elements of Udaipur with a curfew and minimize web entry throughout Rajasthan in an effort to stop protests from spreading via the state. Native authorities vowed to punish web customers for sharing movies and images of the killing, however by late Tuesday, movies and images had circulated broadly, and snippets of video have been performed repeatedly on tv information.

“We now have beheaded the tailor,” Attari says in one of many movies. “We live for our God and we will die for him. Take heed to me, Narendra Modi. You began this fireplace. We’ll douse it.”

Mohammad and Attari didn’t hyperlink themselves to any extremist group of their movies, however Indian officers have been treating the killing as a terrorist assault and signaled that the boys weren’t performing alone. The pair have been arrested at a freeway checkpoint late Tuesday whereas allegedly attempting to flee Udaipur on a bike and have been questioned about their alleged ties to 2 militant teams based mostly in Pakistan, the Hindustan Occasions reported.

Ashok Gehlot, the Rajasthan chief minister, who belongs to the Indian Nationwide Congress, an opposition get together, stated Wednesday on Twitter that investigators have collected details about the killers’ overseas contacts however didn’t reveal particulars. The homicide was “past creativeness,” he stated, whereas urging Modi to deal with the nation and enchantment for unity.

“There’s a want to enhance the environment,” Gehlot stated. “There’s an environment of rigidity everywhere in the nation.”

India, which is roughly 80 p.c Hindu and 15 p.c Muslim, has a protracted historical past of spiritual battle. However over the previous yr, will increase in hate speech and communal unrest — which have thus far resulted in comparatively few deaths — have raised fears about tensions tipping into large-scale bloodshed.

Hindu preachers have held massive rallies the place they freely name for the mass killing of Muslims. Hindu mobs have waved swords menacingly outdoors mosques, prompting Muslims to pelt them with rocks. When these clashes erupt into riots, native officers in a number of cities have referred to as in bulldozers to demolish Muslim houses and outlets, a transfer critics say is a type of collective punishment. On Indian social media, conspiracy theories accuse Indian Muslims of waging “jihad” towards Hindus by seducing their ladies and spreading the coronavirus.

“We’re a cycle of endless violence if substantial numbers of individuals from each communities handle to persuade themselves that their variations can now not be politically resolved,” stated Debashish Roy Chowdhury, a political commentator and creator. As Muslims change into more and more marginalized in Indian society, he added, there’s a hazard of “self-radicalization.”

On Wednesday, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, one in every of India’s most distinguished Islamic organizations, condemned Teli’s homicide as “towards the legislation of the land and our faith.” The group’s chief, the cleric Hakimuddin Qasmi, referred to as on all Indian residents to “restrain their feelings and keep peace.”

Within the weeks main as much as Teli’s killing, the controversy surrounding Sharma’s feedback concerning the prophet Muhammad had provoked widespread condemnation within the Islamic world, main the Indian authorities to apologize, however the episode additionally triggered a posh debate in India over the BJP’s political id — and whether or not there needs to be limits on free speech.

BJP critics say distinguished get together members ceaselessly stoke spiritual tensions by making provocative statements, and critics of the get together supported its resolution to fireplace Sharma. However her removing enraged many within the BJP’s Hindu nationalist political base, who argued that Sharma solely cited what was in Islamic scripture and accused her detractors of intolerance.

Teli, one in every of Sharma’s defenders, wrote concerning the controversy on social media, which angered his Muslim neighbors, based on a police criticism they filed in early June. The criticism, which was seen by The Washington Publish, didn’t specify what Teli allegedly stated in his submit, which was later deleted, but it surely prompted native police to arrest him briefly.

Teli then complained of being monitored by males in his neighborhood and of receiving dying threats over the submit, based on a doc he submitted to the police. The tailor closed his enterprise for a number of days till reopening this week.

On Tuesday, Mohammad and Attari walked into Teli’s store, posing as prospects earlier than attacking him, police stated. He was hacked a number of occasions and repeatedly stabbed within the neck however was not decapitated, police stated.

Authorities banned massive gatherings in Rajasthan on Wednesday, however small protests organized by hard-line Hindu teams have been starting to pop up throughout the nation.

“There’s chaos, anarchy and no rule of legislation,” stated Apoorvanand, a professor at Delhi College who goes by one identify. “If we don’t make a collective effort and convey down the temperature, then we’re headed for catastrophe, or are already there.”

Anant Gupta contributed to this report.


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