Bengal political parties condemn killing of worker in Rajasthan

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh refused to answer questions on the killing of the migrant worker from West Bengal in Rajasthan alleging “love jihad,” a term made popular by right wing Hindu groups, indicating that the incident was “a political” one.

“Now you are asking a political question … Thank you very much,” Mr. Singh told journalists in Kolkata when asked about the incident in Rajasthan. He ended the press conference — mainly on border security — immediately and did not take any further questions.

Political parties in West Bengal came together to condemn the killing of Afrazul Khan, migrant worker from Malda district. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted that she “strongly condemn[s] the heinous killing of a labourer from Bengal in Rajasthan.”

“How can people be so inhuman? Sad,” she said on her Twitter handle.

Mohammad Salim, MP, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Polit Bureau member of the party, condemned the attack saying the “term love jihad is itself absurd.” “The words [love and jihad] have the exact opposite meanings and it does not make sense to use them side by side. Thousands of migrant workers from Bengal work in Rajasthan. The State government should take up this issue with the Central government,” Mr. Salim said.

Pradip Bhattacharya, a Rajya Sabha MP from the Congress and former State Congress president, said a “lawless situation” had been created. “If this keeps happening, the country will be destroyed. All the political parties should come together to condemn this. The parties should come together to hold public meetings at least. Maybe, that will stop these incidents,” Mr. Bhattacharya said.

Family “shattered”

Afrazul Khan, 50, was working in Rajasthan for the last twenty years. Afrazul, hailing from Syedpur village of Malda district, is survived by wife Gulbahar Bibi, and three daughters. Two of them are married while the third one studies in class IX. Since Afrazul had been living in Rajasthan for a long time, he was a well connected man. He coordinated with the migrant labourers who arrived in Rajasthan from Bengal and worked with the civic bodies too.

“At times he worked as a labourer. [But] with age, he was working less and rather operating as a labour contractor [who] used to coordinate between the builders and the workers in Malda,” his brother Nurul Huda told The Hindu on phone from Malda. “He has been visiting Rajasthan for the last 20 years, it was his second home. He had many friends there as well. So, we can’t imagine how someone could do this to him. We are shattered,” Mr. Huda said.

Social media condemnation

The story, first published in a Hindi newspaper earlier on Thursday, with an online video of the man in a red t-shirt and white trouser axing “his friend” and then setting the victim on fire went viral. Many took to social media demanding “united resistance” to such crime. “The government of West Bengal should write to the Rajasthan government, demanding an explanation … requires united resistance,” said Amiya Sarkar, a resident of Malda district where the victim had his ancestral house and family.

Former Editor of a national magazine, Kajal Basu said [on Facebook] that “…this calmly videotaping a murder, this unhurried confession in a temple [by the accused Shambhunath Raigar]…is another level of brutality and impunity altogether.” Another journalist Manisha Pande asked for “prime time debate on the real victim of love jihad.”