In what was probably the most bizarre and bizarre story in India, a 38-year-old man from the southern city of Thane has been charged with killing a 35-year old man because he allegedly converted to Islam.
The case has been lodged in the state’s capital New Delhi after he allegedly killed Rajesh Kumar, who was from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, on March 11.
The accused, who is a Muslim, is reportedly a follower of the radical group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is also known as the Jaish-e Mujahideen, or Jemaah Islam-e Khalq.
The Jemaai has been blamed for a number of attacks in India.
In June this year, an Indian soldier was killed in an attack on a military base in the border state of Kashmir after the soldier, named as Major Jyoti Singh, allegedly converted his faith to Islam in order to protect his life.
The man, who allegedly converted from Hinduism to Islam, was also shot dead by the military after a chase by security forces.
“There is no doubt that the accused is a radical and is a member of the Jemaaj-e Pakistan-based Lashkar.
He converted to the Islamic faith after being attacked by security personnel,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police, Thane (Delhi), Javed Khan.
Police have arrested a local Muslim cleric and a Muslim youth for the alleged crime.
“It is a serious case and it is the first case of a Hindu converting to Islam,” said the officer.
The police are also investigating whether the man, a resident of Thani, is a Lashkar member, as the group has been accused of atrocities in Kashmir.
In a Facebook post, a Lashkars spokesperson said that they would “pay full price for this.”
According to reports, Rajesh was shot at least four times while fleeing from the scene of the crime.
The incident was captured on CCTV camera in the city’s Gokul police station.
The deceased, who had not been named, was allegedly assaulted by police.
“He was allegedly beaten by three policemen while trying to escape.
Police had to use force to subdue him,” said an official from the Thane Police Station.
The Hindu newspaper reports that the suspect allegedly confessed to killing Rajesh.
“I was a student at the University of Delhi (Udhampur), I was working at a hotel in Thane when I was arrested.
The cops claimed I converted to my faith and committed blasphemy.
I have no idea why they charged me with murder,” he said.
The local Hindu group, Mahila Mahila, has been in touch with the police to seek an investigation into the case.
The alleged victim is also reportedly in a critical condition, the Hindustan Times reported.
The victim’s father, Pankaj Kumar, told the newspaper that he was shocked to learn that the man had converted to religion, adding that he is a farmer and he had been working in the region for about six months.
“The police said they were investigating his statement and that I must also prove my guilt,” said Pankaja Kumar.
The suspect’s arrest comes after a series of other cases of Hindu conversion in India in recent years.
Earlier this month, a Hindu woman in the eastern state of Maharashtra was arrested after allegedly converting to Christianity and committing blasphemy.
“When I got arrested, I saw a picture of my son in the police station, I was stunned and I felt scared,” the woman told The Hindu.
Earlier, in December last year, a Christian man from a different region of the state of Uttar Pradesh was arrested for allegedly converting his religion to Islam and murdering his Muslim wife.
He was later sentenced to death by hanging.
In March, a Muslim man from Gujarat, who reportedly converted to Christianity, was sentenced to three years in prison for murdering his Hindu wife.
In July, two Hindu women in Uttar Pradesh were also arrested after being charged with murdering their Muslim husband and wife.
According to The Hindu, the women allegedly converted their religion to Christianity when they married each other in May this year.