FO rubbishes claims India killing has Pakistan links

Terms it India’s attempt at maligning Pakistan by externalizing internal issues

The Foreign Office (FO) on Wednesday “categorically rejected” Indian insinuations linking a Pakistani organization to the suspects involved in the alleged murder of a Hindu tailor in Udaipur.

“We have seen reports in a segment of the Indian media referring to investigations into the murder case in Udaipur, mischievously seeking to link the accused individuals, Indian nationals, to an organization in Pakistan,” the FO said. We categorically reject any such insinuations, which are typical of the BJP-RSS Hindutva-driven Indian regime’s attempts at maligning Pakistan including by externalizing their internal issues through pointing fingers towards Pakistan, it added.

“Such malicious attempts will not succeed in misleading the people, either in India or abroad,” the FO said. Hundreds of police were deployed in the Indian city of Udaipur after the murder of a Hindu tailor allegedly by two Muslims in revenge for inflammatory comments about Islam by a ruling party member. The attack – in which the men seemingly tried to behead their victim – was captured on video that went viral and has gripped a country with a long history of communal violence.

The video showed Kanhaiya Lal being attacked in his shop, with further footage showing the two accused purportedly brandishing large knives and threatening to kill Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They then justified their murder as a response to Lal’s alleged support of derogatory comments about Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) by a spokeswoman for Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP party, Nupur Sharma.

The remarks by Nupur Sharma at a TV debate in late May sparked protests that turned violent in some parts of India and demonstrations across the Islamic world. According to the Hindustan Times, an investigation had revealed that the suspects – who have been arrested – had links to “Karachi-based Dawat-e-Islami, which has links with Barelvi pan-Islamic Tehreek-i-Labbaik extremist organisation in Pakistan”.

Hundreds gathered outside Lal’s house ahead of his funeral on Wednesday, a day after several hundred protested and chanted Hindu slogans in response to the killing. People on motorcycles and cars waved saffron flags – the colour of the Hindu faith – and shouted slogans demanding the death penalty for the accused. “Hang them, hang them. My husband has gone,” the man’s distraught widow told reporters. “If the law doesn’t want to do anything, give them to us so that we can kill them,” said another relative.

The two young men were arrested on Tuesday as they attempted to flee Udaipur by motorbike, news reports said. The central National Investigation Agency (NIA) said that the men circulated the video “in order to trigger panic and strike terror among the masses across the country”. To prevent potential sectarian violence, authorities deployed 600 extra police and put the city of around 450,000 people under curfew, cutting mobile internet access there and in other parts of Rajasthan state.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot appealed to people not to share the video as it would “serve the attackers’ motive of creating discord in society”. “The involvement of any organization and international links will be thoroughly investigated,” Indian Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted. Indian Muslim organisations condemned the killing, but Surendra Kumar Jain from the far-right Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad said that many Muslim leaders have “insulted Hindu beliefs”.

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