About 3 km from the market in Udaipur where Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor, was hacked to death on Tuesday, is a small general store, on the ground floor of a two-storey house in Raza Colony. The shop is locked, as is the house. Two police constables stand guard outside. Both the shop and the house belong to Ghouse Mohammad, one of the two men who killed Lal.
The colony is part of the larger Khanjipeer locality in Udaipur, a predominantly Muslim neighbourhood. Neighbours said that Ghouse, in his 30s, mostly kept to himself. “He was deeply religious. He kept to himself. We never heard his name being associated with any sort of violence,” said Mohammed Rafique, a resident.
Mohammed Umar, another neighbour, said Ghouse, a father of two, was earlier a “collection agent” with an investment agency. “Many people from this locality would make daily recurring deposits with him. After the company got entangled in allegations of fraud, many lost their money. Thereafter, he, along with his father, opened a general store,” he said.
“No father or mother would want their children to be criminals. It’s because of outside influence. A day after the incident, his father broke down and said, ‘Isne kya kara. Usne na mera izzat ka khayal kara, na mera buzurgi ka khayal kara’ (What did he do? Neither did he care for my honour, nor for my old age),” said Shama Khan, a resident of the area, adding that Ghouse’s family left the house shortly after that.
A few houses away, down a descending lane, is the house where Mohammad Riyaz, the second accused who is also in his 30s, used to live. The house is locked, and policemen are deployed outside.
“I had rented out two rooms on the ground floor to Riyaz — he moved here on June 12. Riyaz is a welder, and was staying here with his wife and two children. I didn’t find anything suspicious about him. I had asked him for some rent in advance but he said he couldn’t pay it. His family left after the incident. I am yet to get my rent,” said the house owner, also named Mohammed Umar.
Qayyum Baig, a welder who worked with Riyaz earlier, said the latter had been working in Udaipur for the last two decades.
A senior police officer who is part of the investigation team said that prima facie, it appeared that Riyaz had welded the knife used to kill Lal.