Udaipur: Forty-year-old Yashoda came out of her house in Udaipur’s Sector 14 Wednesday, dressed like a bride. She wore the same lehenga that she had dressed up in more than two decades back to marry her husband Kanhaiya Lala Teli.
But there was none of the joy or hope that usually brightens the face of a bride. Instead, there was pain, and a burning anger.
Just a day before, Kanhaiya Lal — a tailor by profession — had been brutally murdered by two Muslim men for putting up a social media post in support of former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. Sharma had been suspended for making controversial comments against Prophet Muhammad.
Identified by the police as Mohammad Riyaz Attari and Ghaus Mohammed, both accused were arrested late Tuesday night. The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take over the case.
Purported visuals of the crime were shared on social media, where the two men were seen claiming responsibility for the crime and threatening Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while brandishing huge knives.
While Kanhaiya Lal’s body was cremated Wednesday, his wife will continue to dress as a married woman (not a widow) till the tehrvi, or 13th day ritual after her husband’s death, according to local custom.
Her resplendent attire was, however, a poor cover for her shattered emotions.
Yashoda broke into sobs as reporter after reporter asks her about her husband’s death. But she displayed no frustration at having to repeat her answers and relive the ordeal.
Not satisfied with either the arrests made in the case, or jobs for family members and monetary compensation from the government, what she seeks is “justice”, she said. By which she means that the perpetrators be not hanged by the state, but beheaded or burnt, she explained.
“I’m not saying all Muslims are the same. But the Muslim community has to be blamed for what has happened. The way Hindu community is gathering (in anger against Kanhaiya Lal’s killing) is the correct answer to give to them,” said Yashoda.
Maintaining that Kanhaiya Lal didn’t deliberately share suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s remarks, and that he had apologised for having done so inadvertently, Yashoda said, “My husband had employed Muslim workers in his shop. He used to say there’s only one God, and didn’t think of Islam as a lesser religion. We had good relations with our Muslim neighbours”.
‘Good husband & father’
A day after Kanhaiya Lal’s killing strict curfew remained across Udaipur district. Streets bore a deserted look, while anti-Muslim sentiments were voiced by some.
Kanhaiya Lal’s family meanwhile were lost in remembering the man that he was.
Yashoda called him a doting, caring husband and father. “Last karwa chauth (a celebration by married women in some parts of the country) he gifted me a saree worth Rs 4,000. Do husbands usually do this,” she asked.
Family photos show the couple and their two sons — Tarun and Yash, aged 21 and 18 respectively — boating in the lakes of Udaipur. The family would also visit places of pilgrimage near Udaipur or relatives living in Gujarat whenever Kanhaiya Lal had the time, said his wife.
“He was a busy man, working from 8 am to 8 pm in the shop. He hardly ever had time, but whenever he did, he devoted it to the family,” said Yashoda.
The deceased’s niece, Manju Ben, remembered her uncle as a jolly man, who was always there for his extended family.
“My mother died 3 years ago. Since then he has been in constant touch with us. Never forgetting to call. Always asking us if we need anything,” she said.
Referring to the promises of compensation by the government, she said, “we don’t want some sarkari naukri (government job) that pays Rs 7,000 a month. We want respectable jobs for our children.”
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)
Source: The Print