LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Indian police have detained three members of a Hindu militia for suspected involvement in the killing of a Muslim man who they blamed for helping an interfaith couple elope.
Police officer Muni Raj said Wednesday that Ghulam Mohammad was beaten to death in Uttar Pradesh state's Bulandshahar district a day earlier. The killing came days after Mohammad's relative eloped with a Hindu girl.
The detained men belong to the Hindu Yuva Vahini, or the Hindu Youth Brigade, which was set up by Hindu priest Yogi Adityanath, who Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently named chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India's most-populous state.
One of the stated goals of the militia, which was founded in 2002, has been to end marriages between Muslim men and Hindu women. They claim that Muslim men are trying to spread their faith by seducing Hindu women.
Before he became chief minister, Adityanath had been a five-term federal legislator with Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and was known for making incendiary statements attacking India's minority Muslim community. He was and continues to be the head priest of the Gorakhnath Math, a religious order based in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Attacks on Muslims and minorities have been on the rise since the BJP came to power in national elections in 2014. Most of the attacks have been linked to small, Hindu fringe groups like the militia being investigated for Tuesday's killing.
On Wednesday, a senior BJP state leader, Vijay Bahadur Pathak, said that nobody would be allowed to the take the law into their own hands. He said that if the detained men were found guilty they would be punished.