On the afternoon of June 28, the 48-year-old tailor Kanhaiya Lal Teli’s murder shook the entire nation when the killers shared a video they filmed while committing the heinous crime from Udaipur. Although the killers were caught by the Rajasthan police in the Rajsamand district within six hours of the crime, Udaipur has been witnessing communal turmoil ever since.
Akbar, Ghouse Md's immediate neighbour at his Kirana Store
The traces of this incident go back to the blasphemous comments on Prophet Mohammad made by the BJP’s national spokesperson, Nupur Sharma, on national television.
Riyaz Attari and Ghouse Mohammad, residents of the Khanji Pir area in Udaipur, are both in their mid-thirties and have been living in the same area with their families.
Following their arrest on June 28th, the two accused were brought before the session’s court in Udaipur on June 30th and sentenced to 14 days in judicial custody. The NIA took custody of the two accused and took them to the Jaipur court for further investigation and inquiry.
Days later, an India Today investigation found Riyaz’s alleged connections with the ruling BJP. Pictures of Riyaz with the local leaders of the BJP have been making rounds on social media ever since. However, the BJP leaders have denied having any connections with Riyaz and suggest that many take part in public events, and clicking pictures is a common thing for any citizen.
The police and state officials have hinted that there might be a bigger conspiracy behind the crime by citing Ghouse’s claimed connections with the proselytizing Sunni group Dawat-e-Islami in Pakistan. The Indian Dawat-e-Islami, on the other hand, is a split-off group with no organizational ties to the Pakistan-based organization.
Ghouse's house, where his family has lived for over 30 years
Who are the killers: Ghouse Mohammad and Riyaz Akhtari?
Both the alleged murderers hail from Khanji Pir, a Muslim ghetto in Udaipur city. While both of them resided in the same ghetto, Attari rented a house parallel to Ghouse’s lane, 12 years ago.
When Mojo Story tried to learn more about the profiles of these alleged killers, it was discovered that the entire neighbourhood was shocked to see Ghouse involved in such a crime. The ghetto people contended that Ghouse was not the type of person who would kill someone; rather, he was well-known and liked by all.
Ghouse lived with his wife, two kids, and his parents — his father ran a grocery store right down his building and Ghouse worked as an agent of Sahara India. The neighbours also said that in his spare time, Ghouse would sit at his father’s store and help with the household work as well.
One common take about Ghouse was that he was usually quiet and would not talk much. He was seen watching videos on his phone while sitting at his father’s shop but was not very active on social media either.
“I was shocked to see the face of Ghouse popping up in the video”, Akbar said, one of the neighbours. “He has been brainwashed, according to me,” he added.
Another woman from the neighborhood, in a state of shock, informed us that Ghouse’s family is really normal and simple. Ghouse would always greet and be courteous to everybody.
Yusuf Khan, another man in the neighbourhood, claimed Ghouse to be a man of religious thinking and full of etiquette, “He would read namaz 5 times a day. He lived a very simple life for the last 35 years and never misbehaved with anybody”.
Yusuf Khan and his wife, neighbours of Ghouse Md
Reporters were informed by ML Lather, the director-general of police for Rajasthan, that Ghouse had gone to the Karachi Dawat-e-Islami office in 2014. Rajendra Yadav, the state minister for a home in Rajasthan, revealed to journalists that Ghouse visited some Arab nations as well as Nepal between 2018 and 2019. He also stated that Ghouse spent 45 days in Pakistan that year, “For the past two to three years, he was calling eight to ten Pakistani phone lines.”
One of the neighbours commented, “He did visit Pakistan, but how does that prove anything?” in response to how going to Pakistan does not prove his links with any terrorist groups. “As far as I know, he visited his Pir in Pakistan.”
While Ghouse enjoys a reputation as a respected man, Akhtari, on the other hand, has a very mixed and confusing personality. He had lived in the Ghetto for the previous 12 years and worked as a welder, but few knew anything about him, his work, or his family members. Akhtari was always making remarks to people who passed by his house. Locals and ghetto residents frequently criticised his behaviour toward women.
According to the neighbours, Akhtari was a new tenant in the current house — he frequently moved houses due to disagreements with the owners.
The most recent rented house by Riyaz where he had lived for only 15 days with his family
“Akhtari was a very strange man. We also heard rumours about how he never cleared his rent on time and often had to leave one house in search of another.”
Akhtari worked as a welder at a nearby shop. An unnamed local resident said Akhtari built the cleavers at this workshop a few months ago. The cleavers used in the murder, according to the authorities, were also produced at the workshop by Riyaz.
According to the popular narrative in the Ghetto, Riyaz was very upset after he heard Nupur Sharma make derogatory claims against Prophet Mohammad and his wife.
He, even in his video, mocked Udaipur’s “dadas” for not acting in a similar manner(killing/beheading men who insult the Prophet). He displays several green bracelets. Akhtari refers to the perception that males who wear bangles have been emasculated by doing so, saying, “You do not have the guts to do it, therefore wear these bangles.”
The houses of both the killers remain locked with policemen stationed outside the whole day. The police, however, did not confirm the whereabouts of the owner or the families of the two accused.