RAJSAMAND: On December 6, a viral video on social media shook the country. In the town of Rajsamand in Rajasthan, 37-year-old Shambhulal Regar was seen hacking to death and burning Afrazul, 45, a migrant labourer from West Bengal.
A few hours later, Regar published a video with his 13-year-old daughter by his side, justifying his horrific crime as revenge for “love jihad” — the term used by rightwing groups who allege that Muslim men draw Hindu women into relationships to convert them.
Regar’s story was that an orphan girl from his village was taken away to Malda, West Bengal, by an “illegal Bangladeshi”. He went on to say that she was converted to Islam, and that he (Regar) had to go and bring her back.
But the police have a completely different account. They say that Regar, who is married, may have killed over his secret affair with a minor girl.
In 2010, the girl ran away to Malda with a labour contractor from Bengal, Bablu Sheikh. “Her mother and uncle got her back, but she ran away again in two months. This time a guy called Ajju Sheikh helped her get to Bengal,” the police said.
“It is true that Regar had feelings for her and he went to Bengal to get her,” Rajender Singh Rao, Circle Officer, Rajsamand told NDTV. Regar went to Bengal in 2015. “He (Regar) came to me asking for money to go to Bengal and get my daughter. He told me that she was being ill-treated there. So I gave him Rs. 9,000,” the girl’s mother told NDTV.
“But when she came back, I refused to accept her, so Regar took her on a bike somewhere. I don’t know where she is now,” she said. NDTV found that the girl continues to live in Rajsamand. We contacted her, but she was reluctant to speak.According to the police, she stayed in touch with Ajju Sheikh, a labour contractor.
On December 5, the police say, Regar went to Jhalchaki Chauraha in Rajsamand — a popular meeting point for Bengali labourers — looking for Ajju, saying he wanted some work to be done. A person gave him Afrazul’s number instead.
So it was Afrazul that Regar apparently phoned and asked to meet. He met him on a plot of land he owns and killed him on camera.
Regar’s family members say that he had been “disturbed” ever since he returned from Bengal, and had stopped working in the family business, which was the marble trade.”He had stopped working after he returned and would roam around here and there,” Regar’s brother Jaswant told NDTV.
Regar’s lawyer claims that he is mentally unstable. “I have filed an application for his mental checkup. Once it is approved, a medical board will be formed and his mental health will be checked,” Sameer Vyas, Regar’s lawyer told NDTV.
But the police deny this, pointing out the planning in the murder. “Mentally, he is absolutely fine, he has no problem,” Mr Rao said.
“The way the murder was committed and the way he mentally prepared his nephew to film the crime, it is clear that it was a planned cold-blooded murder,” said Manoj Kumar, senior police officer at Rajsamand.
Regar also watched videos of hate speeches on the Internet.Police sources told us an investigation of his Internet record shows he watched a notorious speech by Hyderabad lawmaker and MIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi in December 2012 in Telangana — “25 crore Muslims will take care of the 100 crore Hindus if only police was removed for 15 minutes.”
Regar also watched the inflammatory response by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia in January 2013 at Nanded, Maharashtra. “Remember Nellie in Assam, where the police was removed… Over 3,000 people died, not one of them was a Hindu,” Mr Togadia told the gathering to cheers. “Remember Bhagalpur, where the police was removed… So many people died that it was difficult to count, not one of them was a Hindu,” he said. Both videos are easily available online.
“It is true that he used to watch provocative videos; we are still investigating the matter,” said Mr Rao. Today, on the desolate lanes of the Regar mohalla, Regar’s family lives amid tight police security round the clock. While members of his family are in shock, Regar remains unapologetic.