Indian state shuts down internet after Hindu beheading sparks unrest

According to Bhawarlal Thoda, a city administrator in Udaipur, the tailor had told police he’d been threatened after making a social media post in support of Sharma’s controversial comments.

“Terrorists executed my father in the most shocking way, the country must stand with our family to demand justice,” the victim’s son, Yash, told Reuters after his father’s body was cremated on Wednesday.

He said the culprits should be tried and sentenced to death, and denied that his father has made any remarks that would be offensive to other religions.

Hardline Hindu organisations held protests in India’s capital New Delhi to condemn the killing of Teli and more protests were planned on Thursday.

Politicians and prominent Islamic preachers have also condemned the killing.

“The incident has shocked followers of Islam, the heinous act committed by two men is absolutely un-Islamic,” said Maulana Ahmed Siddiqui, a Muslim cleric based in Udaipur.

“The mood is tense and almost all shops are closed today,” Thoda said in Udaipur. The city of around half a million people is one of the major tourist draws in the desert state, and is known for its luxurious hotels, including the well-known Taj Lake Palace.

Authorities said they had suspended internet services in parts of Rajasthan to stop the circulation of the killers’ video, and asked social media platforms to immediately remove any content that encourages, glorifies or justifies the killing in order “to prevent any incitement and disruption of public order and to restore public peace and harmony”.

India has a long history of religious violence, and thousands of people have been killed since the country became independent from British colonial rule in 1947.

Modi’s pursuit of a “Hindu first” agenda since coming to power in 2014 has stoked tensions in a country where Muslims make up around 13 per cent of its 1.4 billion people.

Earlier this month the BJP suspended Sharma from the party for making offensive remarks about the Prophet and expelled another official but the furore has not died down.

Modi has not commented on the killing in Udaipur. But, former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, who belongs to the BJP, blamed the Congress Party, now running the state, for the “communal frenzy and violence” that has arisen there.

Raje said “such acts can occur because the state government provides tacit support to criminals”.

While Congress has championed secular values in India since independence, the BJP has cast it as a pro-Muslim party in order to draw Hindus away from its main opposition.

Rajasthan, with a population of around 69 million people, is just one of two Indian states where Congress holds a majority in the state legislature, and it is due to hold elections next year.

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