ON ANY other day, Dhanmandi, a market area in Udaipur, would have been bustling with activity. But on Wednesday, only police barricades could be seen, at every turn of the serpentine alley leading to a shop with a signboard marked “Supreme Tailors”, where its owner, Kanhaiya Lal, was killed on Tuesday.
With a curfew in place, all shops were closed as security personnel kept a close watch.
But, about 6 km away, hundreds of people assembled outside Lal’s house in Sector 14, Udaipur, as his body was brought back after post-mortem. The angry crowd raised provocative slogans, calling for the execution of his killers.
Lal, in his 40s, was a father of two, Yash (21) and Tarun (18). While Yash is a B.Com. Second Year student, Tarun is in his first year of B.Pharma. “What will I do now,” said their mother, Yashoda.
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“My husband was consistently receiving threats that he would be killed. People would come to his shop and threaten him. He was not going regularly to his shop for the past seven-eight days; he would just go once in a while to check on his staff members. If timely action had been taken, he would have been alive,” she said.
“We don’t even remember who shared the post. Someone mistakenly clicked the repost button and it got shared. Despite the fact that he was receiving threats, the police didn’t provide him protection. My father was the sole breadwinner of the family, as my brother and I are still studying. We suspect that more people are involved because it was a pre-planned murder,” said Yash, adding that his first priority was to ensure that his father’s killers are hanged.
In a video posted online, the two men who killed Lal – they identified themselves as Mohammad Riyaz and Ghouse Mohammad – said it was in retaliation for the victim sharing remarks made by BJP’s Nupur Sharma on the Prophet.
On June 10, nearly three weeks before he was hacked to death, Lal was arrested on an FIR for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. After he was released on bail, he submitted a written complaint alleging death threats and seeking police protection.
“By mistake, a post related to Nupur Sharma’s comments was made by Lal’s son. Lal was arrested and was subsequently granted bail. Thereafter, he continued to receive threats and when he told the police, they didn’t provide him protection. Instead, they mediated a compromise between the two parties. A man and a woman threatened him even a day before he was killed. Lal’s photos were circulated on WhatsApp groups, his killing was meticulously planned,” alleged Kuldip Sahu, who said he was a family friend.
Despite the curfew in seven police station areas, hundreds of people, on motorcycles and in vehicles, accompanied the funeral procession, raising provocative slogans and waving saffron flags.
A top police officer said the administration allowed the crowd to assemble to avoid untoward incidents that may have flared if they had been stopped. Just next to the cremation ground, a number of policemen stood guard near a Muslim burial ground, where a signboard was knocked down by the angry crowd.
Among politicians who met Lal’s family were BJP leader and Rajasthan Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria, who is also the MLA from Udaipur, and Preeti Shaktawat, Congress MLA from Vallabhnagar in Udaipur district.
According to relatives, Lal, originally from Dungarpur district, shifted to Udaipur about two decades ago.
“The cremation of Lal took place today and the crowd was peacefully dispersed. An amount of Rs 31 lakh has been arranged for the victim’s family through public donation and another Rs 5 lakh will be provided by the court,” said Rajendra Bhatt, Divisional Commissioner, Udaipur.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan DGP M L Lathar has said that an SHO and an Assistant Sub-Inspector have been suspended for negligence.
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