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killing of tailor brings Hindu-Muslim tensions, fears of more unrest in India

People attend a protest after the killing of a Hindu man in Udaipur, Rajasthan state, India, June 30, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Thousands of people have protested in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan following the recent murder of a Hindu tailor, with many calling for the two Muslim men accused of killing him to get the death penalty.

Thursday's demonstration in the Indian city of Udaipur organized by Hindu groups saw several people throwing stones, chanting slogans and calling for the two accused to be executed.

A viral video that appears to depict Tuesday's murder shows the two men purportedly attacking Kanhaiya Lal in his shop with large knives. The veracity of the clip has not been independently confirmed.

The two men allegedly attacked Kanhaiya Lal over his support for recent blasphemous comments about Islam by a member of India's ruling Hindu nationalist party that sparked fury across the Muslim world.

The derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammad (Peace upon Him) made by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s national spokesperson Nupur Sharma, during a TV program in India and its Delhi media head, Naveen Kumar Jindal in late May risked damaging India’s ties with Muslim nations and sparked demonstrations across the Islamic world.

The sacrilegious comments prompted the governments of nearly 20 countries to summon their Indian envoys to express their displeasure.

Earlier this month, the party suspended the pair, though opposition politicians have called for stronger action.

Disciplinary action against members of the ruling the BJP has failed to quell growing anger in India and the Muslim world.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Modi's pursuit of a "Hindu first" agenda since coming to power in 2014 has stoked communal tensions in India. 

The developments follow increasing violence targeting India’s Muslim minority carried out by Hindu nationalists who have been emboldened by Modi’s silence on such attacks since he came to power in 2014.

Over the years, Indian Muslims have often been targeted for everything from their food and clothing style to inter-religious marriages.

Critics say these tensions have further been exacerbated by right-leaning Indian television anchors during raucous TV debates.

International rights groups have warned that attacks could escalate. 

They have accused Modi’s governing party of looking the other way and sometimes enabling hate speech against Muslims, who comprise 14% of India’s 1.4 billion people but are still numerous enough to be the second-largest Muslim population of any nation.

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