“BJP behind Kanhaiya Lal Teli’s murder”: Ashok Gehlot

Debjit Mukherjee: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has asserted that the perpetrators behind the murder of Udaipur tailor Kanhaiya Lal Teli were connected to the BJP. Gehlot alleged that the BJP was attempting to stoke communal tensions ahead of the November 25 Assembly elections in the state. Speaking during a campaign visit to Jodhpur on Sunday, Gehlot criticised the involvement of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the case, suggesting that if the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Rajasthan Police had handled it, the investigation would have reached a more conclusive end.

Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor, was gruesomely beheaded in his Udaipur shop on June 28 last year for allegedly posting content in support of suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma. The incident occurred shortly after Sharma’s suspension from the BJP for an alleged anti-Prophet tirade, causing nationwide shock and public outcry.

Gehlot emphasised that it was an unfortunate incident and criticised the absence of top BJP leaders at an event in Hyderabad despite learning about the Udaipur incident. He questioned the effectiveness of the NIA’s involvement in the case, suggesting that the state’s Special Operations Group would have expedited the pursuit of justice.

The Chief Minister accused the assailants of having links to the BJP, citing their release from police custody days before the incident when BJP leaders intervened. He asserted that the BJP, sensing defeat in the upcoming elections, was resorting to unfounded claims to stir trouble.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing an election rally in Chittorgarh last month, accused the Gehlot-led Congress government of playing vote-bank politics in the Kanhaiya Lal case. The Prime Minister questioned the Congress’s actions in response to the Udaipur tailor’s killing, branding it as a move fueled by political motives.

Rajasthan is set to go to polls on November 25, with the counting of votes scheduled for December 3. In the 2018 Assembly elections, the Congress secured 99 seats, while the BJP won 73 in the 200-member House. The Congress formed the government with support from the BSP and Independents.