Bombay High Court: Murderers Religiously Provoked

On June 2, 2014, in Pune, India, Vijay Gambhire, Ranjeet Yadav, and Ajay Lalge attended a meeting of the Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS), a right-wing fringe group. The meeting was held in response to protests following the release of morphed images of prominent right-wing figures such as Bal Thackeray. According to witnesses the leader of the HRS, Dhananjay Desai made an impassioned speech provoking listeners to go out and rampage through the streets. Gambhire, Yadav, and Lalge obliged, and later that evening tracked down Mohsin and Riyaz Shaikh, young Muslim IT workers. They beat Mohsin to death with hockey sticks while Riyaz escaped.

On January 16, 2017, Justice Mridula Bhatkar of the high court released the three men on bail, claiming that “in the name of the religion, they were provoked and have committed the murder.” The family of the deceased is expected to take their case to the supreme court and challenging the sentence. Mohsin’s father is quoted as saying “Is provocative speech permissible for murder of an innocent person from another religion? All three accused were arrested from the murder spot.”

This case is a very severe example of the differences between religious faith and observance as discussed in-class on Monday. It is very evident that the three aggressors in this case had very, very different religious views than Mohsin Shaikh. The question of whether or not these religious views are an acceptable excuse for murder is a separate issue, but the fact remains that spirituality can form a piece of one’s identity so prominent that they can be moved to kill someone over it.