A Common Man Turned Into A Brutal Murderer, Courtesy Social Media
Nearly all of us have watched videos of Shambhulal Regar ambushing Mohammed Afrazul from behind with an axe-like weapon and spreading the message of ‘uniting against Islamic jihad’.
Brutally wielding a man he had met for the first time in his life, Shambhu said, “I did whatever I understood, whether good or bad…I am giving a jihadi his true end. I know the politics of the opposition will call me a terrorist and a traitor to the nation. I am bringing pain to my happy family. I want to be named as one among the men who died in terrorist attacks in this country.”
Hate spewed by social media
Afrazul was killed in Rajsamand. Almost every youngster in this town has access to smartphones. Because of the recent plunge in the prices of internet data on phones, they frequently watch and share videos on social media. Most of these videos depict calves being butchered or are about the “oppression on Hindus.”
A youth watching a video of a calf being butchered was told by a BBC correspondent that the video was not taken in India, in fact, it was from Pakistan. In his reply, he said, “We see all this. We are young men of today’s generation. Even our blood boils.”
Shambhu is one of these young men. His feeling towards Hindutva is clearly visible in the provocative videos he made.
After the advent of social media, it has become easier for politicians to unite people in the name of religion. They no longer need to go door to door to sway votes in their favour; a mere video shared on Whatsapp or Facebook does the job for them.
How a common man killed someone he had never met before in his life
Shambhu’s brother-in-law told that his business was not going well for a couple of years. He was unemployed and drinking and smoking ganja (weed) a lot. “He was disturbed that work was not going well. He used to spend his time watching videos on his smartphone,” he said.
People from the neighbourhood also say that Shambhu was unemployed for nearly a year. His wife confirmed this in a statement given to the media.
The impact of social media on the young is clearly visible. Editor of Udaipur Dainik Bhaskar, Tribhuvan, says, “Since last year, the internet has become cheaper and the use of social media has gained pace. When people watch videos dyed in colours of religion and communalism, they get disturbed.”
“In the last one year, unemployment in Rajasthan has also increased among the lower class or the low income-category. Those in their 20s to 35-40s unable to get jobs are watching videos in their free time. When people are engaged in something unproductive and live in an environment of despair, they are easily distracted and fall prey to false news. I feel that social media in Rajsamand is responsible for influencing the killer,” Tribhuvan continued.
Shambhu’s mother wonders how can her son, who has never slapped anyone, kill without any provocation?
She believes that the ones who influenced her son to murder should also be punished by the law. They are partners in the crime, she says.
Before committing the murder, Shambhu had made a Facebook post in English, raising issues taken up by the Bharatiya Janata Party, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh over the last few years – Muslims practice Islamic jihad, they convert Hindu girls to Islam by love jihad, they spread terrorism in India and marry four times to increase their population.
In a Facebook post, Shambhu says, “Islamic jihad has spread all over the world and now it has to be stopped. I will have to end my non-violent life in order to rescue the captured girls in the jaws of love jihad.”
All the young people of the Regar Mohalla are convinced that love jihad exists and is a real problem they soon need to tackle. They repeatedly mention that Shambhu saved a girl who fell victim to love jihad. She had shifted to Malda with a Muslim Bengali worker several years ago.
Shambhu says in a video while chanting ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Jai Sri Ram’ that he rescued the girl from the ‘clutches of jihadis from West Bengal.’ He claimed that the girl was harassed and forced to adopt Islam.
However, in conversation with BBC, the girl dismissed Shambhu’s claims.
“I have nothing to do with Shambhu. I have nothing to do with anyone. Leave me in my state. I did not come back with Shambhu. Shambhu had come to West Bengal to bring me back after taking money from my mother, but I did not come with him. I returned ten to fifteen days later. This happened several years ago. I was only thirteen years old when they took me. They kept me well in Bengal. There was nothing bad that happened to me but I realized there that I cannot stay away from my family, so I came back on my wish,” she said.
Many videos of Shambhulal, recorded before Afrazul’s murder, have surfaced online and become viral. In these, he says, “We will have to end jihad from our country by breaking all our caste bands. Instead of fighting for reservation, we need to fight to keep the strength of Hindutva alive.”
The Dalit youth of Shambhu’s mohalla seem to agree with his views. When BBC was done questioning them, they started chanting the slogan ‘Jai Shambhu Bhavani, Jai Sri Ram’.
In the videos that are widespread on social media, Shambhu talks about love jihad, Islamic terrorism, four wives of Muslims to reproduce many children, issues with Article 370 in Kashmir, atrocities on Kashmiri Pandits, Islamisation of India, global terrorism, anti-national Muslims, the problems with reservation, and the importance that Dalits unite.
If one scrolls down Shambhu’s Facebook timeline, named ‘Shambhu Bhavani’, there is nothing fierce that promotes violence. His posts with the saffron flag have been made only recently. It can be derived that his fundamentalist ideology has had a deep impact on him a few months ago.
The youth of Regar Mohalla also call Shambhu by the name of Shambhu Bhavani. Kailash Regar, who lives near Shambhu’s house, says, “There have been incidents of Bengali Muslims taking girls from our locality. Shambhalal has done exactly what needed to be done.”
Whatsapp group ‘Clean India, Clean Rajsamand’ has an image of Shambhu in a yoga posture, sitting amidst saffron flags.
Dalit girls of Regar Mohalla heard the word love jihad for the first time in Shambhu’s viral videos. Yet they believe, “If love jihad didn’t exist, why would Shambhu do this?”
However, elderly people in the area said that what Shambhu did was wrong. “Bad work has bad consequences,” they said.
This article was first published in BBC Hindi. You can read the original report here.