A caretaker of the Ajmer dargah was arrested by the Rajasthan Police on Tuesday night after he allegedly offered to gift his home to anyone who beheads suspended Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her disparaging comments about Prophet Muhammad, ANI reported.
The accused is identified as Salman Chishti, a khadim (caretaker) of Ajmer dargah, said Additional Superintendent of Police Vikas Sangwan.
A first information report was registered against Chishti on Monday night after the police found a video of making the alleged remarks.
“He was nabbed from his house and is being questioned,” Sangwan said. “It seems he was in an inebriated state when the video was made.”
Sharma made the disparaging remarks during a debate on Times Now television channel in May. Her comments led to a spate of violence and unrest across several parts of the country. She was suspended by the BJP after India faced a diplomatic outrage from a number of Gulf countries.
In the video that the police found, Chishti is also purportedly heard saying that he would shoot Sharma dead for insulting the Prophet.
“You have to give a reply to all Muslim countries,” Chishti said. “I am saying this from Ajmer, Rajasthan, and this message is from Huzur Khwaja Baba ka darbar.”
He was referring to the Sufi shrine that witnesses several Hindu visitors, other than Muslim devotees, PTI reported.
Dargah Station House Officer Dalveer Singh Faujdar said that Chishti has a criminal record.
Meanwhile, the office of Ajmer Dargah Dewan (spiritual head) Zainul Abedin Ali Khan said that the shrine is a place of communal harmony, NDTV reported.
It distanced itself from the video, saying that the views expressed by the khadim “cannot be considered a message from the dargah”.
Four persons were arrested last week in connection with another provocative speech delivered at the main gate of the same dargah on June 17, according to PTI.
The video of their speech was circulated before the murder of tailor Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur on June 28. A video showed two men claiming responsibility for the crime as they brandish the cleavers used in the murder. They claimed they had killed Lal for supporting Sharma’s comments about the Prophet.
The four individuals were arrested after Lal’s murder rocked the state.
A curfew was announced in all districts of Rajasthan for a month under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, restricting the gathering of four or more persons.
Before Lal’s murder, a chemist in Maharashtra’s Amravati was killed on June 21 after he purportedly made a social media post supporting Sharma.
On July 1, the Supreme Court said that Sharma was single-handedly responsible for tensions in India. A bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Surya Kant had said that being a spokesperson of a national political party does not give anyone the liberty to speak “such disturbing things”.