Rajasthan: Muslims forced to leave village after threats from Hindus

Jaisalmer: Following threats by Upper Caste Hindu villagers, twenty Muslim families were forced to leave the village in western Rajasthan. The incident occurred after a string of events started with the murder of a folk singer, Amad Khan, a top police official said on Friday.

Around 200 Muslims, including women and children, are living under police protection in homes of their relatives at Balad, about 20 km from their village Dantal in Jaisalmer district.

Trouble began during a Navratri function in a village temple on September 27, where folk musician Amad Khan, 45, performed religious songs, a tradition in Dantal village. The Muslim singer belonged to a folk artist community known as Langa Maganiyaar, reported Hindustan Times.

A village faith healer, Ramesh Suthar, asked Khan to sing a particular raga so that the spirit of the temple goddess enters his body, one of the so-called miracles traditional occultists claim they can perform, police said.

Suthar then blamed Khan’s allegedly poor singing as a reason for the goddess abandoning him on that day, police said. “He (Suthar) broke Khan’s musical instruments and also assaulted him,” a local police officer said.

Suthar, then with two others, allegedly kidnapped Khan on the same night from his home, Khan’s younger brother Suge Khan said.

“Later, my brother’s body was thrown outside the house,” he added.

The next day, elders of a dominant Hindu community allegedly threatened Khan’s family members against lodging a complaint with police. “We got scared and buried his body quietly,” Suge Khan said.

They, however, mustered courage a few days later when their relatives from nearby villages came and assured them of “all help”. Suge Khan said after the complaint was lodged, Ramesh Suthar and other upper caste villagers ordered the Muslims to leave the village.

“They threatened us that if we did not leave the village they will kill us. After that about 20 families consisting around 200 members have left the village and took shelter at nearby Balad village in our relative’s house,” Suge Khan said.

Jaisalmer superintendent of police SP Gaurav Yadav said they were trying to convince the Muslims to return. “We have assured them of protection if they want to return…We have also spoken to village elders and told them that cases would be lodged if they threaten the Muslims,” Yadav added.

Police arrested Ramesh Suthar on October 4 but two of his accomplices are absconding, The body of Khan was exhumed and an autopsy was conducted, police added.