A former Rajasthan legislator of India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been caught on camera gloating over the deaths of at least five Muslims who were reportedly lynched for cow slaughter or cow smuggling in the western Indian state of Rajasthan.
Former BJP MLA Gyan Dev Ahuja was paying a visit to the house of a Hindu vegetable vendor, Chiranjilal Saini, who was recently lynched by a group of 20-25 Muslims on August 15 for allegedly stealing a tractor. In their conversation, Ahuja brought up several past mob lynchings of Muslims and spoke about the intentional killing of five people.
Ahuja said that he had given complete freedom to his party's " activists " to kill anyone involved in cow smuggling and cow slaughter. Ahuja also reassures them that legal protection will be provided to those who carry out these attacks.
"We have killed five of them so far, be it in Lalwandi, be it Behror … I have given a free hand to the workers, kill those ** behind cow slaughter," said Ahuja in the video that went viral. "We will get you acquitted. We will get you out on bail too."
On Monday, August 22th, Ahuja was interrogated by the Rajasthan Police for the charges of promoting religious hatred and enmity.
The number of cases of mob lynchings and killings of Muslims by angry Hindu mobs has increased in the five-year reign that Ahuja served as a legislator in Ramgarh in the Alwar district of Rajasthan from 2013 to 2018.
At least three incidents have happened in the last four years in Alwar where Muslims were murdered over cow smuggling or slaughtering allegations.
55-year-old Pehlu Khan was mob lynched by a group of roughly 200 cow vigilantes (people who violently attack Muslims on the pretense of "cow protection") on April 1st, 2017, in Behror, who later died from his injuries.
A few months later, 35-year-old Umar Khan was shot to death by two cow vigilantes who believed Khan was a cow smuggler. His body was found near the railway tracks in Alwar on November 11th, 2017.
The following year, 31-year-old Rakbar Khan was ruthlessly attacked by an angry mob for transporting milch cows on their feet on July 20th, 2018, in Lalwani. Shortly after the attack, he died from his injuries.
This is not the first time Ahuja has made such comments. He is infamous for supporting cow vigilantism.
Amidst the chaotic cases of mob lynching, the former MLA, after the murder of Rakbar Khan, said, "Cow slaughtering is a bigger crime than terrorism. Terrorists kill 2-3 people, but when a cow is killed, sentiments of crores[billions] of Hindus are hurt. If cows are killed, people will be angry & cow smugglers will face the consequences".
Since the ruling government of the Bharatiya Janta Party came to power in 2014, hate speech and crimes against Indian Muslims have increased exponentially.