The recent incident of hacking to death and burning alive of a Muslim man from West Bengal in the name of ‘Love Jihad’ in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand once again draws our attention to the rise of hate crimes in India. Shambhu Lal, the accused not only brutally killed the 48-year-old Mohammad Afrazul, a daily wage labourer, but also instructed his 14-year-old nephew to record the entire incident of spine-chilling murder on his phone, and posted it on social media.
His intention becomes evident from the statement he made in the videos. In the first of the two videos posted by Shambhu, he is found to be threatening the ‘ love jihadis’ warning them of their ‘anjaam’ or consequence after he hit Afrazul several times with an axe and burnt his silent body.
This horrifying video of murder that sends a cold wave down the back of every human being who watches it, raises a crucial question. Whether hate crime is a new norm in India.
Before this incident, most of the hate crimes committed were related to ‘gau raksha’ or protection of cows. In the first six months of the year 2017, 20 ‘cow-terror’ attacks were reported from various states, among which four happened in Rajasthan.
Beginning with the lynching of Pehlu Khan in Alwar district in April, the murder of Zafar Khan, allegedly by people employed to implement the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in Pratapgarh in the month of June, killing of a folk singer named Ahmad Khan in October, allegedly by a Hindu priest Ramesh Suthar and his friends for making mistakes while reciting hymns to evoke a Hindu goddess, the alleged gunning down of Ummar Mohammad and Tahir Khan by the cow vigilantes in November in the same Alwar district, where a few months ago Pehlu Khan was beaten to death, to the recent murder of Afrazul, Rajasthan has witnessed a series of hate crimes throughout the year.
This rise in hate crimes which are specifically anti-Muslim in nature questions the capability of the BJP run state government of controlling the restlessness within the state and ensuring security to the Muslim inhabitants. While this complete lawlessness within the state has turned out to be a reign of terror for the Muslim inhabitants of Rajasthan, many are found to suggest this lawlessness to be the appropriate way of controlling the Muslim men from successfully executing their ‘ploy’ of ‘love-jihad’ in order to lure Hindu girls into conversion. Thus, in a way, this gut-wrenching incident is found to be supported by many on social media as a courageous act of setting an example for ‘love-jihadists’. Therefore these crimes are in a way presented as ‘normative’, as punishment for the ‘minority’ for daring to cross limits in a ‘Hindu-Rashtra’.
It is difficult to say whether the murder of Mohammad Afrazul has a direct political motivation behind it. However, the unofficial institutionalisation of Islamophobia has always successfully effected the citizens to grow certain ideas and beliefs against Muslims. Killing of Muslims in the name of ‘gau raksha’ or saving the honour of Hindu girls from ‘love jihadists’ is actually the reflection of strong Islamophobia in the country. It seems we have finally reached the ironical state where a victim of violence is defamed, while the criminal is supported as a true ‘deshbhakt’ who does not shy away from taking the law in his hand for saving a Hindu woman’s honour and courageously surrenders at the end.