The murder was caught on camera and the footage quickly went viral on the internet, raising fears of inter-religious violence, as the country has a long and bloody history of it.

The video shows the attack on tailor Kanhaiya Lal in his shop, where the two suspected killers appear to be attempting to decapitate him. Then they brandish knives and threaten to kill Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

They then explain the murder by the victim’s alleged support for recent statements about Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, by a spokesperson for the ruling Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the movement of Mr. Modi.

Hundreds of people gathered outside Kanhaiya Lal’s home on Wednesday for his funeral, then followed the hearse carrying his coffin through the city streets. Some, in cars or motorbikes, waved saffron flags – the color of Hinduism – demanding the death penalty for the killers.

“Hang them, hang them! My husband is gone,” the upset widow told the press. “If justice does not want to do anything, give them to us so that we can kill them,” said another relative of the deceased.

The day before, several hundred people had already demonstrated after the announcement of the murder, chanting Hindu slogans.

The two young alleged killers were arrested on Tuesday while trying to flee Udaipur on a motorbike, according to local media.

“The two accused of the murder have been arrested and we will ensure that we have severe punishment and swift justice,” Rajasthan Prime Minister Ashok Gehlot said. He called for not sharing the video, as it would “serve the abusers’ goals of creating discord in society.”

To prevent possible inter-religious violence, 600 additional police officers have been deployed in the city of 450,000 inhabitants. Mobile internet has been cut there, but also in other parts of the state of Rajasthan, whose authorities have decreed a ban on gatherings of more than three people for a month

On social media, members of the BJP party described the killing as an attack on all Hindus, calling it “Islamic terrorism”.

Indian Muslim organizations condemned the killing, but Surendra Kumar Jain of the far-right Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad claimed many Muslim leaders had “insulted Hindu beliefs”.

“Fear the day when Hindus start to respond to insults in the same way,” he threatened in a video message.

A demonstration by Hindu extremists in New Dehli gathered around 100 people.

– Diplomatic storm –

During a televised debate at the end of May, Nupur Sharma, a spokesperson for the BJP, had criticized the relationship between Muhammad and his youngest wife, Aïcha, provoking demonstrations which had degenerated into violence in certain regions of India (at least two dead ) and protests throughout the Muslim world.

Ms. Sharma was expelled from the BJP. But his statements led to the summoning of Indian ambassadors in some twenty countries for explanations.

Kanhaiya Lal was arrested on June 10 for supporting Sharma on social media and released on bail the next day, his wife told NDTV. Five days later, the father of two told him he had received death threats, but decided on Tuesday to return to his store.

Indian Interior Minister Amit Shah said the NIA, the anti-terrorism agency, is taking charge of the investigation. The latter claimed that the two men released the video to “cause panic and terror among the masses across the country”.

Violence erupts sporadically between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority (around 14% of the 1.4 billion Indians): 53 deaths in 2020 in New Delhi, 62 deaths in 2013 in the neighboring town of Muzaffarnagar…

In 2002, at least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in the state of Gujarat (west), when Narendra Modi was its prime minister.

Since becoming nationwide prime minister in 2014, his party has been accused of discriminating against Muslims and deepening divisions with Hindus.