Crime News

The assailants should be hanged, says family of labourer hacked to death in Rajasthan

Rights groups accused the chief minister and home minister of shielding those attacking Muslims in the state and asked for them to resign.

The family members of Mohammad Afrazul, who was hacked to death in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand town on Wednesday, said his assailants should be hanged, reported The Indian Express. Afrazul was killed and burnt alive, and a video of the attack was circulated on social media.

“Those who killed him like an animal and showed his pictures to the world should be hanged,” said his family members in West Bengal’s Malda disrict. Afrazul’s wife Gul Bahar Bibi said she wants justice. “He was only killed because he was a Muslim,” she told The Indian Express.

The assailant, identified as Shambhulal Regar, had shared multiple videos of the brutal killing. The Rajasthan Police arrested Regar and detained his nephew. Inspector General of Police (Udaipur) Anand Shrivastava said that Regar’s nephew, a minor, had shot the videos of the murder.

While the police are uncertain about the motive behind the murder, there could be a communal angle to the crime as Regar is heard making threats about “love jihad” in one of the three videos that went viral. One of Afrazul’s three daughters said they have no idea what “love jihad” is.

Afrazul’s niece Zeenat Khan, on the other hand, cried foul. “There is a conspiracy and big people are involved,” she told The Indian Express. “What can a labourer do? The manner in which the crime is highlighted on social media shows that there is a deep conspiracy and big people are involved.”

Rights groups want CM and home minister to resign

Several rights groups on Thursday demanded that Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria resign for allegedly giving impunity to those accused of attacking Muslims, reported the Hindustan Times.

Organisations like the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, National Federation of Indian Women, All India Democratic Women’s Association and National Muslim Women Welfare Society issued a joint statement condemning the brutal killing of Afrazul. “Although the police have arrested the murderer Shambhu Lal Regar and the nephew who had shot the video, but it is important to reach the people who motivated him to carry out this murder,” read the joint statement.

The rights groups said Afrazuk’s murder was the fourth case in the last nine months that displayed the impunity they get from the state. There have been several attacks on Muslims in Rajasthan including the lynching of dairy farmer Pehlu Khan in April, and the shooting of Ummar Khan, who was killed by alleged cow vigilantes in November.

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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.


During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.