Indian police arrest ‘masterminds’ behind brutal execution of Hindu tailor

Indian police say they have arrested the “masterminds” behind the brutal beheading of a Hindu tailor in the northwestern state of Rajasthan.

Three senior investigators on Saturday told Reuters that they have taken two persons in custody for conspiring in the execution of Kanhaiyalal Teli, whose murder last week had stoked communal tension in the state, prompting the authorities to clamp down on protests and suspend internet services to prevent further escalation of violence.

“We have now arrested the two masterminds and previously we had arrested two men who committed the heinous crime,” said Prafulla Kumar, a senior police official based in Udaipur.

The two accused were identified as Asif Hussain and Mohsin Khan, reported the Indian Express. “They have been found to be involved in the admission of the crime. Both are residents of Udaipur,” Ashok Rathore, senior police officer with Anti-Terrorism Squad told the outlet.

Earlier on 28 June, two Muslim men – Gaus Mohammed and Riyaz Akhtari – murdered Teli and filmed the chilling video of the killing that they then posted online.

Brandishing cleavers, the two men were seen on video gloating about the murder as they issued threats to kill Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. They claim to have killed the man in retaliation for his support of him for a former spokesperson of Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who sparked an international incident with comments about the Prophet Muhammad in May.

On Wednesday, home minister Amit Shah directed the country’s anti-terrorism agency, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), to take over the investigation and thoroughly probe the “involvement of any organization and international links”.

The federal agency also took over a separate case of the murder of a 54-year-old chemist in the south-western state of Maharashtra. The man, Umesh Kolhe, was also found with his throat slit on 21 June after he allegedly voiced his support for Ms Sharma, BJP politician Tushar Bhartiya was quoted as saying by NDTV.

India found itself at the center of a diplomatic storm after the then-BJP spokesperson made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad and his wife Aisha, during a debate on Times Now in May. The condemnation from Middle Eastern countries that followed ultimately led to her suspension of her from the party.

There have also been protests in different parts of India, neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh against Ms Sharma’s statements, demanding legal action against her.

Violent clashes were reported in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur city on 4 June, which left several people, including police officers injured.

In Afghanistan, Isis attacked a Sikh temple killing two people and at least seven were injured. The group said that the assault on “the Sikh and Hindu temple” was in response to alleged insults made against the Prophet Muhammad.

On Friday judges from the Supreme Court of India came down heavily on Ms Sharma for making incendiary remarks, saying that her “loose tongue” has “set the entire country on fire”.

Meanwhile, Indian police arrested a Muslim journalist on Wednesday, days after he brought international attention to the controversial remarks by Ms Sharma.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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