On January 17, two Muslim men were brutally attacked in Gadag, Karnataka, India. The men were on their way to a barbershop when they were ambushed by a group of 10 to 12 Hindu nationalists.
The Muslim victims, 20-year old Sameer Subhansaab Shahpur and 22-year old Shamseer Khan Pathan, were attacked by the right-wing Hindu groups Bajrang Dal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Shahpur died of his injuries in the hospital while Pathan remains in critical condition.
Nargund Police released a statement a few days later claiming that a series of communal conflicts have been reported between Hindus and Muslims in the district. “Students have been inciting each other since,” the statement said.
The incident is just one of the few coordinated attacks targeting Muslim minorities in India. Most of these attacks are fueled by anti-Muslim rhetoric peddled by certain Hindu leaders. The anti-Muslim sentiment is becoming more rampant due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inaction to address it.
In December last year, Pooja Shakun Pandey, a senior member of the right-wing political party Hindu Mahasabha called on members to “kill 2 million Muslims… to protect India, and make it a Hindu nation.” Pandey’s call for violence and similar commentaries from right-wing Hindu leaders were met with applause.
On the morning of the incident, members of the Bajrang Dal protested in front of the Nargund police station opposing the cases that have been filed against their members.
Sanju Nalavadi, a member of the Bajrang Dal, claimed that they are the protectors of Hindus, including the police. “If they attack us or the police, we won’t leave those terrorists,” Nalavadi added.
Speaking to local news, the deceased victim’s brother, Sahil Shahpur, claimed that it was impossible for his brother to have initiated the violence. “My brother had no enmity with anyone,” he said.
Four people have been arrested in connection to the attack. Sanju Nalavadi, Mallikarjun Hiremath, Channabasappa Akki, and Sakrappa Kakanoor have been charged with violating eight sections of the Indian Penal Code, including rioting with a deadly weapon and murder.