Man Killed a Muslim Worker, Burned His Body and Filmed It to Raise Money and 'Become a Hindu Hero'

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Muslims offer prayers as they take part in a protest against mob lynchings of Muslims who were accused of possessing beef, in Kolkata, India, June 28. A Hindu extremist was filmed killing a Muslim worker, police in the Indian state of Rajasthan said. Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

A Hindu man got his 12-year-old nephew to film him killing a Muslim laborer in India, in an attempt to raise funds for his anti-Islam camapign, according to police in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan.

The suspect, Shambulal Regar, shared his bank account details along with videos of the murder that mainly circulated on Whatsapp and received 300,000 rupees ($4,665) from more than 700 people across India.

“The accused wanted to become a Hindu hero after killing a Muslim man; his main aim was to collect money after committing the hate crime,” police officer Anand Shrivastava told Reuters.

Police have since frozen his wife's bank account as more than 500 people pledged donations to Regar's legal defense, local media reported. His supporters also staged a demonstration on Thursday. Ensuing clashes injured at least 30 demonstrators and 20 police officers, and there were 50 arrests, authorities told local media.

The videos began circulating on December 6, the same day that a charred body was found by a passerby who informed the police. The victim was a laborer from the eastern Indian state of West Bengal who worked near the area where he was killed.

Regar was arrested the day after the body was found. Regar’s underaged nephew was also arrested last week as police said he was the one who shot the videos, The Indian Express reported.

In one of the videos, which have since been taken down, Regar is seen attacking the man with an iron rod and then stabbing him as he lies on the ground, local media reported. In another, he pours a liquid over the body of the man and then throwing a match on it as he rants about “jihadis.”

According to the police, the man described himself as a proud Hindu fighting against a “love jihad”—a term Hindu hardliners use to accuse Muslim men of marrying Hindu women to convert them to Islam.

The police don't believe Regar knew the victim of his hate crime, the latest in a string of attacks against India’s Muslim minority—less than 8 percent of the country’s 1.32 billion citizens—that has increasingly been the target of Hindu extremists.

Hindu vigilantes have killed at least 11 people this year whom they suspected of killing or eating cows, an animal that conservative Hindus consider sacred, according to data journalism organization IndiaSpend, and cow-related hate crimes have increased.

In one recent instance, a Muslim man was shot dead while transporting cows near the Rajasthan-Haryana border after he and his two aides were attacked by a group of people, as BBC reported in November.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who leads the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has publicly condemned the cow-related violence, but his critics say he hasn’t done enough to stop the anti-Muslim attacks.

After Hindu vigilantes take the cows from Muslim farmers, these end up in cow shelters that often sell or give the stolen cattle to Hindu farmers, a practice that has seen a steep increase in states governed by Modi’s party, according to a Reuters investigation published last month.