Jaisalmer: Ahmad Khan, a 55-year-old folk singer was allegedly thrashed to death in Rajasthan’s Danta village of Jaisalmer on September 27. The accused, Ramesh Suthar is a priest.
Khan hailed from Manganiyar community of Muslims who are known for their folk songs in praise of Hindu deities. He had been performing in Navratri gatherings in the village temple for nearly a decade.
On the day of the assault, Suthar, the temple priest, had reportedly asked Khan to sing a particular song which is believed to please the Goddess and make her spirit enter the priest’s body.
On observing that nothing happened, the priest blamed Ahmad’s poor singing to be the reason for the goddess to ‘abandon’ him and assaulted the 55-year-old singer.
Suthar, along with two of his relatives — Tara Ram and Shyam Ram, dragged Khan out from his house and thrashed him. Khan reportedly succumbed to injuries on the spot.
“My husband was murdered over a petty issue and we were treated like the doomed. Danta can no longer be home to us,” said Ahmad’s widow, Kenku.
His body was found in the temple the next morning. Reports said Khan’s family was threatened and stopped from filing a First Information Report (FIR).
“For one small mistake, the Hindus killed my brother,” said Rakha Khan, the dead singer’s cousin. “We can’t live in the same village ever again.”
One of Khan’s son said, “They threatened us that if we did not leave the village they will kill us.”
“After that about 20 families consisting around 200 members have left the village and took shelter at nearby Balad village in our relative’s house,” Khan’s son added.
“He (Suthar) broke Khan’s musical instruments and also assaulted him,” a local police official was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying.
The Manganiyars residing in the village were also threatened by the priest. Fearing for their lives, Khan’s family secretly buried his body.
“The news of the murder triggered unrest between Hindus and Muslims who have been living together for generations,” said Gaurav Yadav, a senior police officer investigating the case.