A day after the gruesome murder of a tailor in broad daylight, Udaipur seemed on edge. As this reporter passed through, most shops were closed and streets deserted.
Kanhaiya Lal, 42, was beheaded in his shop by two extremist Muslim men, Gaus Mohammad and Mohammad Riyaz Akhtari, who also filmed the attack. Both have been arrested.
Lal was targeted for a social media post in support of former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma on social media. He had been arrested three weeks before his death in for hurting religious sentiments. On June 15, after his release on bail, he wrote to the police asking for protection, claiming he had received “death threats”.
Lal’s body was cremated at 1 pm today. Thousands of people joined the funeral procession, amidst feeble shouts of “Desh ke gadaro ko, goli maro salo ko” – Shoot the traitors – and “Jai Shri Ram”.
At the funeral, Yash Teli, the older of Lal’s two sons, demanded that the two men responsible for his father’s murder be “hanged in public”. The police also arrested three others on Wednesday in connection with the killing.
Lal’s tailoring shop is located on Maldas Street in the old part of Udaipur. The roads leading to the shop are festooned with saffron flags, with police personnel keeping watch. Lal’s two-storey home, Gowardhan Vilas, is around five km away – the family moved here three years ago from their former home above the shop. A group of women were gathered inside to console the family.
“Our only request to the government is to hang them. We just want justice,” said Lal’s niece Manju Teli. “We have lost our breadwinner. We just want justice.”
The state government has promised compensation of Rs 31 lakh to the family. On the government offering jobs to Lal’s two sons, Manju said, “Everybody is talking about compensation...Is there anybody after him who can make ends meet for the family?” The state government also promised Rs 31 lakh compensation.
Lal’s wife Jashoda said her husband was a doting father. The family shared their stories of Lal, such as how he loved to pamper his nephew and niece. Old photographs were also brought out – Lal boating at a holiday spot in Rajasthan, Lal posing with his sewing machine, Lal picnicking with his family at Bagheri dam.
Jashoda said, “I just want to ask Modiji, ‘Where are you? Protect us.’ They also threatened Modiji.”
She was referring to the fact that the video shot by the accused included them issuing threats to Nupur Sharma and Narendra Modi. “Modiji is such a big personality,” she said. “Even he is facing threats. We are just nobody. We have to work. We have to go out to earn our livelihoods. What support do we have?”
The family told Newslaundry they also want police protection. “Tomorrow, they will come and kill us,” said Manju. “The government will remain a mute spectator. It can happen to other houses too. We want justice now. After a few days, everybody will forget, the media and the government.”
Earlier today, chief minister Ashok Gehlot announced that the National Investigation Agency had taken over the case and the state police would cooperate. Meanwhile, an NIA team visited the crime scene while a forensic team collected evidence. Charges under the anti-terror law UAPA have also been invoked against the accused.
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