How a ‘inflammatory’ Facebook post led to murder and sectarian tensions in India

Two sons of Kanhaiyalal Teli, a Hindu tailor who was killed by two suspected Muslims after filming themselves killing him, carry a portrait of their father after a prayer meeting in Udaipur in northwestern Rajasthan state, India, March 30 June 2022. REUTERS/Amit Dave

Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to

UDAIPUR, India, July 1 (Reuters) – Two weeks before a Hindu tailor in India was hacked to death by two Muslim men who filmed the act, he was briefly arrested by police after a rival tailor from a ” inflammatory” Facebook posts about the Prophet Mohammad.

Kanhaiyalal Teli’s son told Reuters his father republished a Facebook post in support of a now-suspended spokesman for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, whose inflammatory comments about the Prophet in a TV debate in June had sparked national and international outrage . Continue reading

“My father was a very good man, he never had any problems with anyone,” Teli’s 20-year-old son Yash, whose head was shaved according to Hindu custom after the death of a parent, told Reuters. “Just a repost of a post on Facebook and they killed him. Before that, Hindus and Muslims lived peacefully together in this area.”

Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to

Modi’s push for a “Hindu first” agenda since taking office in 2014 has fueled communal tensions in India, a country with a horrific history of Hindu-Muslim violence. Many Muslims, who make up 13% of the country’s 1.3 billion population, complain of feeling marginalized by Modi’s policies.

Video posted by his attackers of Teli being killed in the northwest Indian city of Udaipur went viral on social media, shocking many in the Hindu-majority country. Fearing an outbreak of communal violence, local authorities have banned large gatherings for a month and suspended internet services.

A few days after his release from detention, Teli told police that some people were spying on his shop and that he feared for his life.

In a police complaint seen by Reuters, he said he was aware his photo had gone viral on Muslim community WhatsApp groups and that he was being given protection.

A police officer said on condition of anonymity that two police officers were deployed to the area after the complaint, but they “relaxed” when Teli didn’t open his shop for a few days.

The tailor reopened his shop over the weekend, his son said, and was killed on Tuesday.

Two Muslim men who brandished a meat cleaver while claiming responsibility for the slaughter of Teli and threatened Modi with the same fate have been arrested and face terrorism charges, police said. They worked in Udaipur but Teli did not know them, his son said.

Still, the video showed him appearing innocent as he used a tape measure to measure a bearded man’s chest just before he was attacked.


In unusually strong comments, India’s Supreme Court said on Friday that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Nupur Sharma was “solely responsible” for creating a situation that led to the killing.

“She and her loose tongue have set the whole country on fire,” Judge Surya Kant said, dismissing a petition by Sharma to consolidate into one the police complaints filed against her across the country. “Their outburst is responsible for the unfortunate incident in Udaipur.”

Political analysts and opposition parties say tensions between the two communities are beginning to simmer under the eight-year rule of Modi and the BJP.

The party says it works for everyone but doesn’t believe in appeasing a community for votes. It has asked people to keep calm after the incident in Udaipur.

Teli was reported to police on June 11 by Muslim tailor Nazim Ahmed, in a complaint seen by Reuters, which said: “He published an indecent comment on the character of our Prophet, which made it in our Muslim society gives trouble. Legal action against the said perpetrator” because of his “inflammatory post” is to be charged.

Reuters was unable to contact Ahmed because his phone was off. His shop across from Teli was closed.

Police have barricaded the Muslim neighborhood where Ahmed lives, preventing journalists from approaching his family.

Opposition politicians have condemned Teli’s murder and called for swift justice, but say the BJP has hurt Muslim sentiment by failing to take legal action against its spokesman.

Alka Lamba of the main opposition Congress party that governs the state of Rajasthan, where Udaipur is located, said “eight years of BJP rule have nurtured and sustained the monster of communalism”. Two BJP spokesmen did not answer the phone.

Teli’s wife Yashoda, whose face was partially veiled, blamed the police for her husband’s death.

“If the police had helped us, he would have survived,” she said. “He had to reopen the store because we ran out of savings. My husband was friends with everyone, including Nazim, so somewhere in his mind he wasn’t that concerned.”

Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to

Additional reporting by Suchitra Mohanty in New Delhi Writing by Krishna N. Das; Edited by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.