Muslim Beheaded for Interfaith Romance; Hindu-Nationalists Suspected

Arbaz Mullah, an Indian Muslim, went missing on September 27, 2021; the next day, he was found headless on a railway track in the Belgavi district in Karnataka, India. The police are looking into the local Hindutva group that accuses Mullah of committing love jihad.

Mullah, 24, was in a romantic relationship with a Hindu girl. The idea of love jihad is an acrimonious term popular among Hindutva. It accuses Muslim men of making Hindu women fall in love with them to convert them to Islam. The animosity towards the Muslim minority in India is deep-seated. Last year, the state of Uttar Pradesh passed a law decriminalizing interfaith relationships.

Najeema Shaikh, Mullah’s mother, said that her son had been threatened on multiple occasions by members of a local Hindutva organization. One member even tried to extort Mullah for money; in exchange, he would be left alone. Mullah, who graduated in Civil Engineering, works at a car dealership in the Belagavi district.

The post-mortem report revealed that Mullah was most likely murdered. Railway Police Superintendent Siri Gowri said that Shaikh filed a complaint prompting them to file a report for murder. “The case will be transferred to the Belagavi district police for further probe since the death was not as a result of the victim being hit by a train,” Gowri added.

The local Hindutva group allegedly summoned Mullah to the city; a scuffle broke out where Mullah had reportedly been murdered. His body was dumped near the railway tracks. Mullah’s body remained for hours in the tracks after being discovered.

His mother strongly suspected that the father of the girl he was in a relationship with was involved. The police have detained members of the girl’s family for questioning.

As of the writing of this article, the police have not officially charged anyone for Mullah’s murder. Multiple local news outlets also indicate a conflicting report about Mullah’s age at the time of the murder.

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