Inside a damp and unusually quiet house in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district, Sita Regar sits with downcast eyes, occasionally pulling her veil, trying to ward off questions about her husband, Shambhulal Regar. A day after Regar, 36, killed a migrant labourer, Mohammed Afrazul, burnt his body, and circulated videos of the incident — purportedly recorded by his 14-year-old nephew — Sita has no answers. “I don’t know why he did this… My husband didn’t have a job… Most of the time, he would smoke marijuana and just roam the streets. But I never thought he was capable of murder,” said Sita.
The victim, Afrazul, 48, was a resident of Malda in West Bengal. In one of the videos, Regar is seen attacking Afrazul with an axe-like weapon, before burning the body. His other videos have communal rants against “love jihad” and Islam. Regar, who was absconding after the murder along with his minor nephew and 12-year-old daughter, was arrested on Thursday morning, from the house of a relative in Kelwa. Inspector General of Police, Udaipur range, Anand Shrivastava, said his nephew had also been detained.
Sita claimed that Regar, a father of three, was mentally unstable, and they hadn’t heard from him after he left home on Wednesday morning. But IG Shrivastava said after preliminary investigation, they “found no reason to believe that Regar was mentally unstable”. He also contradicted the wife’s claim that Regar was a drug addict. “At present, it doesn’t look like Regar was addicted to drugs. Till a year ago, he had a fairly successful marble trading business,” he said. “We have also detained his minor nephew as it was he who shot the videos, including that of the murder,” he added.
While the police are yet to confirm the motive, Regar’s family claimed that a Hindu girl from their area had eloped with a Muslim man from West Bengal a few years ago. “The man used to be an associate of Afrazul. Her mother asked my brother to bring the girl back, and he did that. Since then, he had been receiving threats,” alleged Regar’s sister.
Speaking to mediapersons after his arrest, Regar claimed he had committed the murder because he felt “threatened”. “They ran away with a girl from our colony… I helped her, after which I got death threats. I knew the girl since childhood as her brother used to study with me. They gave me an ultimatum, that I would have to die,” he alleged.
But Afrazul’s cousin, Mohammed Salik Sheikh, denied this. “My brother had nothing to do with any such incident and all these allegations are baseless. He has three daughters back home and was nearing 50. Why would this incident from many years ago be the reason for his death,” he asked. In one of his videos shot after the murder, Regar has “warned” “Hindu sisters” not to fall into the trap of “love jihad”. He has made several inflammatory remarks, and also alleged that history was being “changed” under the influence of Islam, mentioning films like Padmavati and PK as well.
In one clip, he says that Babri Masjid was demolished 25 years ago, but “nothing has happened” in the subsequent years. He also launches a long diatribe about “Islamic jihad” in the country. “It appears that Regar meticulously planned the crime. We have found videos on his cellphone which were shot a day before the crime, in which he has made more inflammatory statements,” said IG Shrivastava.
Afrazul lived in Dhoinda, a village near Rajsamand town. According to his friends, Afrazul came to Rajasthan as a labourer 12 years ago, and had gradually established himself as a private contractor in Rajsamand. “We are around 150-200 people from West Bengal who live here in Rajsamand and earn our living by working as construction labourers. Afrazul never had enmity with anyone here,” said Mohammed Mosharraf Khan, his son-in-law.
“A man had been calling Afrazul since 5 am on Wednesday, asking him to come to a construction site for inspection… We last heard from him around 11 am, when he left for the place,” said Mohammed Aliul, his neighbour. “We are sure that this is not the work of only one man and is a conspiracy to create panic. We want the police to arrest all the perpetrators at the earliest and will submit a memorandum to the district collector on Friday,” said Iqbal Khan, secretary, Anjuman committee, Rajsamand.
Meanwhile, with Regar’s video clips being circulated on social media, Internet was blocked in Rajsamand on Thursday as a precautionary measure.