Behind a brutal killing in an Indian city divided by religion

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Udaipur, India – For 20-year-old Yash Tili, memory is a curse. When he closes his eyes, he sees his father’s bloodied corpse lying on the street, his throat slit.

Sitting in a room full of mourners one afternoon in Udaipur, IndiaAlongside a large picture of his father covered in a wreath, he was reminded of blood.

“I don’t want to remember him like that,” he said as his mother’s wailing could be heard from another room. “How will I sleep now?”

Udaipur, a city of about 600,000 people located in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, has been a powder box since Heinously murdered last month Yash’s father, Kanhai Lal Teli, is a Hindu tailor. In a video posted online by his attackers, identified by police as local Muslims, the elder Tilly can be seen in his shop scaling a man who then attacks him with a machete, joined by the man filming. They later accused Al-Khayyat of insulting Islam.

The killing has shocked people across India, a Hindu-majority country of 1.4 billion people, where religious violence often targets Muslims amid rising discrimination that experts say is fueled by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Shamsir Ibrahim, a 36-year-old Muslim activist, said the state’s endorsement of violence against Muslims is detrimental to the democratic and secular values ​​of India, whose long history of interfaith coexistence has been punctuated by bouts of bloody conflict.

“Under the Modi regime, the spirit of the Indian constitution is waning,” he said in a phone interview. “A very dangerous future awaits the Indian community.”

Yash Tili, left, next to a picture of his murdered father with a relative at his home in Udaipur this month.shrag sharma

‘that they You have no right to live”

Yash was in the Udaipur market on the evening of June 28 when he received a phone call from his cousin: “They did it. They killed him.”

India, a regional power growing closer to the United States, has been on edge for weeks after two senior BJP officials He made derogatory statements About the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of ancient Islam, and his wife Aisha. The remarks sparked protests across the country and Diplomatic anger from the Muslim worldprompting Modi and the BJP to distance themselves from those responsible.

Days before his brutal murder, Kannahiya Lal, 46, was briefly detained by local police and accused of “harming religious sentiments” by expressing online support for anti-Islam statements by BJP officials. And in a second video posted after the murder, his attackers cited his comments on social media, which Al-Khayat later deleted. They also threatened a similar attack on Modi.

Police have identified the attackers as Ghaus Muhammad and Riaz Akhtari, both Udaipur residents. The two men are being held by the National Investigation Agency, India’s premier anti-terror task force, and have been charged under the country’s anti-terrorism law. NBC News was unable to reach their attorneys or ascertain whether they had filed any objections.

On Maldas Street in the old city of Udaipur, outside the shop where Kanhai Lal had been working as a tailor for 15 years, his body lay in a pool of blood as protesters gathered in droves, taking pictures and expressing anger. Yash, the eldest of his two sons, could not bear to look at his father’s body under the cloth he was covering.

After the murder, authorities soon imposed a round-the-clock curfew across the state of Rajasthan, which has a population of 69 million roughly the same as Britain’s. They also suspended internet services in an attempt to stop the spread of the videos, fearing it would increase tensions.

India’s Muslim leaders have widely condemned the murder, saying it violates the teachings of Islam. But Hindu nationalist protests across the country are rife with anti-Muslim sermons and slogans, and even calls for violence.

Speaking to cheers from the room following his father’s death this month, Yash called on Hindus to arm themselves against what he sees as a growing threat.

I realized that there is no democracy in India. He said anxiously, a statement that contradicts the fact that Hindu nationalists are in power. “that they You have no right to live. Cruel people are like them He must be killed.”

“We and they areAttitudes are nothing new in India, which has long struggled with religious, ethnic and linguistic divisions. But critics say that under Modi and the BJP, the conflict between Hindus and Muslims – who make up about 14 percent of the population and make up the world’s third-largest Muslim population – has taken a violent turn toward “us against them”.

“There are organized forces that stir up prejudices and incite Hindus against Muslims,” said Apurvanand, a political commentator and professor of Hindi at Delhi University who uses one name. “The entire politics of the BJP surrounds this: permanently dividing the nation.”

Modi and his party have not commented in the past on the killing of Muslims in sectarian violence. But after the killing of Kanhai Lal, they criticized the Rajasthan government, which is controlled by the opposition Congress Party, saying that it is on its way to becoming a “Taliban state”.

“Congress’s appeasement of Muslims has emboldened the jihadists to the point that they are openly killing Hindus and threatening the prime minister,” Rajivardan Singh Rathore, a BJP MP from Rajasthan, said at a press conference last month. .

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