New Delhi, India, Dec 7 – Indian police on Thursday arrested a Hindu man over the murder of a Muslim labourer after identifying him from a video of the brutal killing that went viral and has sparked widespread outrage.
The footage shows a man hitting labourer Afrazul Khan with a pickaxe and a machete before pouring kerosene over his body and setting it alight.
Afterwards the attacker can be heard warning against so-called “love jihad”, a term used by religious radicals in India to accuse Muslims of marrying Hindu women in order to convert them.
The killing occurred in western Rajasthan state, which has seen a series of vigilante attacks on Muslims in recent months.
Most of the attacks have been related to the transporting of cows, which Hindus consider sacred, by so-called “cow protection” groups who roam highways inspecting livestock trucks.
The state’s police chief O. P. Galhotra told reporters the suspect had been charged with murder, calling it a “brutal crime”.
Police have also detained the suspect’s 14-year-old nephew, who they say recorded the killing.
Religious conversion has become a flashpoint issue for Hindu nationalists in recent years.
Last month, thousands of copies of a controversial booklet were distributed to students at an event in Rajasthan warning Hindu girls of “love jihad”.
In April a 20-year-old Muslim man was lynched in eastern Jharkhand state for dating a Hindu woman.
Critics say vigilantes have been emboldened since the election of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014.