Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday engaged in a war of words as they traded charges over the murder of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur a year ago.
Lal, a tailor in Udaipur, was beheaded last June after he allegedly shared a post in support of suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Nupur Sharma, who was subject of national and international condemnation at the time for her comments on Prophet Muhammed. Two men, identified as Riaz Akhtari and Ghouse Mohammad, allegedly killed Lal with a cleaver and recorded the act.
Speaking at a rally in Udaipur, Shah on Friday accused Gehlot of “vote bank politics” and slammed him for not forming a special court for Lal’s case. He held him responsible for the lack of justice in Lal’s case.
Shah was addressing a public rally in Udaipur’s Gandhi Maidan to showcase the nine years of achievements of the Narendra Modi government.
Shah said, “They (Gehlot government) ask me what I have done in the Kanhaiya Lal case? Before questioning me, you should be ashamed of your government for failing to give protection to Kanhaiya Lal? Gehlot government did not even want to apprehend the accused. It was the NIA that apprehended them.”
Shah accused Gehlot of not filing the charge sheet in the case.
Lal’s murder case was take over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the leading federal terrorism investigative agency in India.
Shah’s remarks came two days after Gehlot had appealed to him to ensure punishment for Lal’s murderers. In a statement released on Wednesday, Gehlot had said “The Rajasthan Police took prompt action and arrested both the criminals within four hours and maintained the law and order situation in the entire state. The same night, the Centre’s NIA took over the case as they might have got inputs about an international conspiracy behind the development, but, even after a year, the accused had not been convicted.”
वोट बैंक के कारण गहलोत सरकार ने कन्हैया लाल हत्याकांड में स्पेशल कोर्ट नहीं बनाई, जिससे अभी तक आरोपियों को फांसी नहीं हो पाई है। pic.twitter.com/TQtEJrWFih— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) June 30, 2023
Gehlot appealed to Shah to direct the NIA to get them punished as soon as possible.
On Friday, Shah further targeted Gehlot, saying, “I want to stress that the charge sheet was filed on December 22, 2022. The Rajasthan government has failed to establish a special court by seeking the High Court’s cooperation. Otherwise, the accused in the Kanhaiya Lal case would have already faced the consequences. Those engaging in vote bank politics should feel ashamed.”
Gehlot calls Shah’s comments irresponsible
While reacting to Shah’s allegations, Gehlot took on to Twitter and dismissed the statement as “irresponsible”.
Gehlot said that the state government had arrested the accused and transferred the case to the NIA and he himself along with his other ministers met the family members of Lal and offered government jobs to both of his sons.
“Amit Shah’s statement in Udaipur is based on lies. Kanhaiya Lal’s killers, Riyaz Attari and Ghous Mohammed, were apprehended by the Rajasthan Police within four hours of the incident, not by NIA,” said Gehlot in a tweet.
यह उम्मीद की जाती है कि जिम्मेदार पदों पर बैठे लोग आतंकवाद जैसे गंभीर मुद्दे पर राजनीति नहीं करेंगे परन्तु आज उदयपुर में केन्द्रीय गृह मंत्री श्री अमित शाह ने जो किया वह एक गैर जिम्मेदाराना कार्य है। श्री अमित शाह द्वारा उदयपुर में झूठ बोला गया कि श्री कन्हैयालाल के हत्यारों… pic.twitter.com/JtGTSezOQi— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) June 30, 2023
Besides cornering Gehlot on Lal’s trial, Shah also accused the Gehlot government of allowing rallies of the Popular Front of India (PFI) despite it being banned in the country.
“In Ashok Gehlot-led Congress regime in Rajasthan, Hindu festivals were being obstructed. The RSS was prohibited from conducting activities and centuries-old temples were being demolished. This was allowed in the pursuit of vote bank politics, disregarding the Constitution. The BJP does not engage in vote bank politics,” said Shah.
Gehlot questioned the delay in the NIA filing the charge sheet in Lal’s case and raised concerns about the involvement of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in the crime.
The status of the Kanhaiya Lal murder case
The Kanhaiya Lal murder case is currently being heard at the court of the Special Judge NIA/CBI at Jaipur, Rajasthan.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is conducting the investigation into the murder case, has arrested nine people since taking over the probe. The NIA had on June 29, 2022, re-registered the case under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after taking it over from the Rajasthan Police.
The case was initially registered at Dhanmandi Police Station in Udaipur. The two assailants of Lal —Riaz Akhtari and Ghouse Mohammad— had posed as customers and entered his tailoring shop before stabbing him multiple times.
Lal was brutally murdered inside his tailoring shop in Rajasthan’s Udaipur on June 28, 2022. The two attackers also filmed the gruesome attack on Lal and circulated videos bragging about the killing and saying that they attacked Lal for allegedly sharing a post on social media in support of former suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma.
Days before his horrific murder, Lal had complained about death threats over a social media post in support of Sharma. Lal was arrested on June 10 after a complaint against him over the post. However, he was released on bail the next day.