Muslim singer’s murder in Rajasthan evokes outrage

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Jaipur, Oct 11 (IANS) A fortnight after a Muslim folk singer was murdered in a Rajasthan village, the exodus of several families of that community from the area has invited severe criticism from the civil society.

“What is the administration doing? A whole community of 200 people had to move out of the village to exile,” People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said in a statement.

The trouble started after Ahmad Khan, a Langa Maganiyar, was allegedly murdered by a local faith healer on September 27, in Danta village in Jaisalmer district.

On that day, faith healer Ramesh Suthar had asked Khan to sing a particular “raaga” to induce a temple goddess’ spirit to enter the former’s body.

When his purpose failed, Suthar blamed Khan for singing poorly. Suthar, along with others allegedly assaulted Khan. They also warned the victim’s family not to file a police complaint.

It was only on October 1, that the bereaved family was able to file the complaint.

On October 5, the police arrested Suthar while two others are still absconding. “We have arrested the main culprit and launched an investigation,” a police officer told IANS.

“As of now around 20 of our (Muslim) families consisting of around 150-160 persons are living in a ‘rain basera’ (make-shift accommodation) in Jaisalmer and we all are so afraid that we do not want to go back,” Bariyam Khan, brother of Ahmad Khan, told IANS on phone.

“We are ready to live under open skies and under no circumstances want to go back to our village. We want government to give us full protection, provide us facilities so that we can live here in Jaisalmer. They should arrest all responsible for the murder,” Khan said.

Meanwhile, the PUCL has condemned the incident. In a statement Kavita Srivastava, Rajasthan president of PUCL said: “The kind of lawlessness in the state, such brutal aggression by dominant castes; lynching of an untouchable by the dominant castes and other castes actively supporting the killers as he is a ojha (faith healer) is deplorable.”

“They keep quiet on the murder, then follow it up with threats, that we will kill a few more, especially when the manganiyars challenged it has to be condemned in no uncertain terms.”

Srivastava said: “They are an already impoverished community. Despite being the nation’s heritage for their incredible music, they are not given support and often end up as labourers in the city.”

“The Vasundhara Raje government is not interested in them… Manganiyar votes don’t matter but Rajput, Charan, Meghwal and Suthar votes matter so she is not even saying anything,” she said.

Bypolls for Lok Sabha seats in Ajmer and Alwar are due after the deaths of the sitting MPs.

“The administration should restrain those who are threatening the manganiyars. File criminal cases against them. And immediately restore them back into their village,” she said.

–IANS

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