On May 4, a Dalit man was beaten and stabbed to death by a group of individuals in Hyderabad, Telangana.
According to a local news agency, The News Minute, the attack was due to the victim marrying a Muslim woman against their family's wishes. The victim, 26-year-old Billipuram Nagaraju, died due to the blunt attacks, The News Minute reported.
The victim's wife, Syed Ashrin Sulthana, said she and her husband had been in a relationship since the tenth grade.
Sulthana said Nagaraju has been asking for her hand in marriage repeatedly. "He even told my mother that he would convert to Islam, but they never accepted the proposal," Sulthana said.
Nagaraju is from the Mala community of the Dalit caste, which belongs to the Scheduled Caste category recognized under India's constitution. Although Indian law prescribes promoting education and economic interests of such Scheduled Castes, it only became a label of further discrimination.
Syed Mobin Ahmed, Sulthana's brother, warned her not to marry Nagaraju because he belongs to the lowest Hindu caste. In contrast, their family belongs to the Syed caste, a Muslim upper-caste who claims to be a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad.
Her brother also beat her and tried to hang her after knowing of her relationship with Nagaraju, Sulthana said.
Nagaraju is from Marpalle, while Sulthana comes from the nearby village of Ghanpur. The couple settled in Panjala Anil Kumar Colony in Saroornagar, Hyderabad, after getting married on January 31, 2022, through Arya Samaj, a Hindu ceremony.
The couple was riding a motorcycle when they were pursued by two men, also on a motorcycle. According to local news, the two attackers blocked the couple's vehicle and started attacking.
— NDTV (@ndtv) May 5, 2022
According to The Wire, the couple had suspected that Sulthana's family had been following them. The couple decided to relocate to Visakhapatnam, a city 10-hours away. The couple decided to come back to Saroornagar a few days before the attack.
Although police reports say there were two attackers, Sulthana claims that at least five individuals attacked them. The police also said that onlookers could not help because the attackers threatened them.
The police were able to arrest Sulthana's two brothers, Syed Mobin Ahmed and Mohammed Masood Ahmed; the two were charged with murder and the violation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was quick to politicize the incident. Krishna Saagar Rao, the spokesperson for BJP, accused Police Chief Asaduddin Owaisi of being silent on the matter. "The only crime committed by Nagaraju for which he was gruesomely hacked to death was marrying a Muslim girl," Rao said.
Shehzad Poonawala, the national spokesperson for BJP, claimed that if the attack were the other way around, the U.N. would accuse India of Islamophobia. "But since Hindu has been killed & in Hyderabad - the crime is secular," he added.
Re-run of Ankit Saxena case.. Nagaraju killed by family of his wife Syed Ashrin in Hyderabad because family of the wife could not tolerate she married a Hindu! THIS IS NOT HONOR KILLING - it’s a hate crime BUT the so called ISLAMOPHOBIA LOBBY /Not in my name Brigade is SILENT pic.twitter.com/0fLPy2izkR
— Shehzad Jai Hind (@Shehzad_Ind) May 5, 2022
In an interview with India TV News, Sulthana expressed anger towards her brother. "I want to kill him just like he killed my husband," she said.
"I don't even want to go home; I just want to stay here and care for my husband's family," Sulthana said.