Love Jihad

Indian demonstrators hold placards as they gather during a 'Not in my name' protest in Chennai July 1, 2017, following a spate anti-Muslim killings, including the killing of a Muslim teenager accused of carrying beef. In Rajasthan, a Muslim man accused of ‘love jihad’ – wooing a non-Muslim woman to get her to convert to Islam – was hacked and burned to death, Dec. 6. (Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images)

JAIPUR — In a horrifying video gone viral, a man is seen being brutally hacked to death and set on fire in the Rajasamand district of Rajasthan, for allegedly committing "love jihad," or pretending to be in love with a non-Muslim girl to encourage conversion to Islam. Police arrested the accused, Shambunath Raigar, Dec. 7.

The person killed has been identified as Afrazul, from the Malda district of West Bengal, police said. Earlier, police had identified him as Mohammed Bhatta Sheikh.

Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria has ordered a Special Investigation Team to probe the case.

A case of murder has been registered and more cases will be registered under relevant sections as and when new facts emerge in this case, police said.

The victim was a laborer in his late 40s. According to Afrazul’s mother, she spoke to him Dec. 6 morning, and soon after that he was murdered. She was terrified to see the video of her son's murder and has demanded the harshest punishment for the accused.

When police reached the crime scene Dec. 7, dogs and carrion birds were feeding on the body.

According to reports, Raigar, who was friendly with the victim lured him to come to fields with him where he hit him repeatedly with a long pick-axe and a scythe. He then poured petrol on Afrazul and set him on fire. The entire gory incident was filmed by Raigar's nephew, who is a minor, and uploaded on the internet. He also left a three-page letter at the site.

Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar said the accused could be seen speaking on issues such as love jihad in the video. He is also seen stating that he was "avenging" the insult being meted to his sister.

According to police, Raigar bought a new pick-axe with the intention of murdering the victim. 

Raigar was arrested from Kelwa when he was going to a temple on his scooter.

Superintendent of Police Kumar said that interrogation of Raigar is underway and police are keeping an eye on the law and order situation. Police have stopped all internet services in Rajasamand. Extra police forces have been deployed in and around the town to prevent violence.

Talking to IANS, Kumar said police received information about a semi-burnt body lying in Ragnagar in Rajsamand district.

Without delay, he along with Additional Superintendent of Police Manish Tripathi and Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajendra Singh, went to the location where they found a badly disfigured body. Immediately the forensics team and dog squad were summoned. The agricultural tool used for murder, the victim's motorbike and his slippers were found at the crime scene.

Terming it a "cold-blooded murder," Director General of Police O.P. Gelhotra said police will demand the toughest punishment for the accused. "We will ask that the accused be hanged to death," he said while terming the murder as "rarest of the rare case."

He praised the efforts of the Rajasthan police who arrested the accused within 24 hours of the incident.

"Interrogation is on in the matter. New facts are emerging in the case and the investigation is hence proceeding in that direction," he added.

Asked if the murder was aimed at destabilizing the state's harmony, Gelhotra said the murder should not be linked to any such thing as it seemed to have been done by a "psycho person."

The DGP said the police will take all necessary steps to ensure that the atmosphere of peace and tranquility in Rajasthan is not disturbed.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje condemned the murder and directed that the criminal be prosecuted in the shortest possible time. "This is a deplorable act which needs to be condemned in strongest possible terms," she said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also condemned the murder. "We strongly condemn the heinous killing of a laborer from Bengal in Rajasthan. How can people be so inhuman? Sad," Banerjee tweeted.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was in Kolkata for a review meeting on India-Bangladesh border issues Dec. 7, refused to make any comment on the issue. "Now you are asking a political question. Thank you very much," he said when asked for his reactions on the incident.

Meanwhile, Afrazul's relatives said: "We want justice. The government must punish the culprit. Hang him! It is a lie that he was involved with a woman. One of uncle lived with him and he never complain about the alleged relation."

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