The Haryana Police are investigating the veracity of a video of Rajput Karni Sena chief Kunwar Suraj Pal Amu allegedly making a hate speech in favour of those arrested in connection with the lynching of a Muslim man in the state, NDTV reported on Sunday. The video has been widely shared on social media.

Amu made the comments at a mahapanchayat held at Indri village on May 30 when coronavirus-induced restrictions were in place in the state. Local Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and members of Karni Sena and Bharat Mata Vahini attended the event along with 50,000 people. “We have taken cognisance of this viral video and we will take action,” district Superintendent of Police Narendra Bijarniya told NDTV.

Several villages held mahapanchayats to support the accused in the lynching case and demand their release. The Muslim Raksha Dal filed a complaint against these mahapanchayats. “None of the mahapanchayats held in the district had prior permission of the district administration,” said Bijarniya.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen President Asaduddin Owaisi on Sunday said that the mahapanchayat amounted to radicalisation. “50k gather in “Hindu Mahapanchayat” to support Asif’s killers,” he tweeted. “Speeches celebrate violence against Muslims & blame Asif for his death. This is radicalisation. Lowly thugs who would be rejected in a decent society enjoy social/political support here.”

The lynching

Asif Hussain Khan, a resident of Khera Khalilpur village in Nuh district of Haryana, was lynched May 16. The incident happened when Khan, 27, had gone out to Sohna, about 15 km from his home, to buy medicines with his cousin and a friend. His car was surrounded by a mob and they were beaten.

The gym trainer is survived by three children and a wife.

“On 16 May in the evening my son Asif along with my nephew Rashid (31) had gone to a medical store in Sohna to buy medicines,” his father Zakir Hussain told The Quint. “While they were on their way back they got in touch with Wasif (22), who they also gave a lift back home. This is when the accused, in three to four cars, repeatedly hit my son’s vehicle and eventually surrounded them from all sides.”

Zakir Hussain said the vehicles hit his son’s car from all sides at a railway crossing near Jakhopur. After that, Rashid and Asif Khan fell out of it. Wasif was dropped off before the incident happened.

“Rashid somehow managed to escape but Asif was kidnapped,” Zakir Hussain told Newslaundry. “He was taken to a place near Nangli village. They were carrying guns, country-made revolvers, and sticks. These goons beat Asif mercilessly. They stabbed one of his eyes and broke his bones. They stabbed him in the chest with an iron rod and shot him in the arm and leg.”

Rashid said the accused pulled Asif out of the car and killed him. “They said they will not leave any of us alive and also said they will make us chant Jai Sri Ram,” he added.

Six people were arrested the next day after Khan’s family filed a first information report and staged a protest while refusing to bury his body. The sections under which the six were arrested include section 148 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 302 (murder), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 365 (kidnapping and abducting a person) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 25 of the Arms Act.

Khan’s father registered the FIR against 14 men. The police said they were looking for the other accused.

Immediately after Khan’s death, tension brewed in the area. At his funeral, many pelted stones at the police while some protestors blocked the Manesar Palwal expressway. The police then baton-charged them and fired guns in the air.

Even though the family has alleged that it was hate crime and the incident triggered a bout of religious unrest in the district, the police claim there was no “Hindu-Muslim” angle to it. They claimed the incident was a fallout of a rivalry between two groups.

Nuh Superintendent of Police Narendra Singh claimed that the two groups had an ongoing dispute that was often resolved by senior members of the village. The key accused was from Hussain’s village, Kheda Khalilpur, some of whom have been arrested while the rest are on the run, the police said.

“Both the groups face cases under sections of the Arms Act and for assault,” Nuh Superintendent of Police Narendra Singh had said. “Six accused have been arrested. An SIT has been constituted which is probing the case.”