The Catholic bishop of India’s Udaipur city has appealed for peace as authorities impose a curfew and block access to the internet following violent protests that broke out after two Muslim men murdered a tailor and posted a video of the killing on social media.
The Muslim radicals attempted to behead the Hindu tailor for supporting a politician from the country’s ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party who had spoken against the Islamic prophet Muhammad on television.
“I condemn the incident,” Bishop John Ganawa told AsiaNews Friday, days after the victim, identified as 48-year-old Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor in Udaipur city in the western Rajasthan state, was killed Tuesday.
The accused, identified as Gos Mohammad and Riyaz, entered Lal’s shop and slit his throat with a cleaver, India’s NDTV reported, adding that they attempted to behead him but couldn’t, according to the police.
“As a representative of the Christian community here in Udaipur, I appeal for peace and harmony among all the communities,” the bishop said. “We stand for religious tolerance, dialogue and peaceful co-existence among all the communities. I pray that good sense may prevail among us all.”
The two filmed the murder and posted it online where it went viral. They also threatened to attack India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In response to the comments made by the former BJP politician about the Islamic prophet, both the Islamic State and al-Qaeda terror groups have threatened to launch attacks in India, according to The Telegraph.
Lal had posted statements in support of former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, who had provocatively spoken against the Islamic prophet last month, leading to widespread criticism in India and Muslim majority countries.
The murder also led to violent protests in India and vandalism of public property.
The city has been on high alert since the incident, and authorities have imposed a curfew and blocked the internet as preventive measures.
India’s central government is treating it as a terror attack being investigated by the country’s security agency, the National Investigation Agency.
It’s an unusual incident, as, normally, Muslim and Christian minorities are attacked by Hindu nationalists and the tensions in the city could spill over to Christians' homes and businesses.
Lynchings and hate speech targeting Muslims have regularly made headlines since 2014 after the BJP swept to power at the deferral level, according to the BBC.
“That the Muslim killers of the Hindu tailor have been arrested is certainly a just response by the Indian government,” the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the government has not been so quick to act on behalf of Christian victims. We pray that this discrimination would cease, and that the Indian government would serve and protect its Christian communities,” ICC added.
For India’s Christians, 2021 was the “most violent year” in the country’s history, according to a report by the United Christian Forum, which recorded at least 486 violent incidents of Christian persecution last year.