Welcome to Politics, Shambhu Lal Regar, the Man Who Committed Murder on Camera


Welcome to Politics, Shambhu Lal Regar, the Man Who Committed Murder on Camera

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

Most of us remember Shambhu Lal Regar as the wild-eyed animal who hacked with an axe and then burned alive a Muslim labourer on camera in Rajasthan last December. Arrested for a crime that he filmed himself, Regar has spent the intervening days locked up in a Jodhpur jail. But this story does not have a happy ending, because somehow, we live in a world where an unrepentant murderer can be celebrated as a hero. Regar is reportedly set to contest next year’s Lok Sabha elections in Agra for the Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena party.

Birds of a feather stick together, so it’s no surprise that the UPNS President Amit Jani is so keen on having Regar be one of the faces of his party. Jani was arrested for threatening to kill Kanhaiya Kumar in 2016, and has also declared, “We want only Hindutva faces to contest elections on our party’s tickets.” The December murder, maintained Regar, was a measure against that old bogey Hindutva is so fond of revisiting: love jihad. With video footage of such a heinous crime, you’d think Regar would be arrested, tried, and sentenced, never to be spoken of again. Sadly, in a cruel and unusual case of “It Happens Only in India”, the murderer has become a folk hero to jackasses across the country.

Regar clinched this spot when the true extent of his influence was revealed during Ram Navami. As the city of Jodhpur celebrated the birth of Rama with festive tableaux, one stage witnessed India’s biggest idiot cosplaying as Shambhu Lal and posing on a throne while lesser idiots thronged around chanting slogans in praise of “Shambhu Nath – love jihad mitaane wala”. This epically bad decision was brought to you by the Jodhpur Shiv Sena chapter, whose co-treasurer Hari Singh Panwar said he was “inspired” by Shambhu Lal’s commitment to Hinduism.

The Shambhu Lal Regar tableau in Jodhpur is the most tangible proof that reason has fled our country. Imagine a Christmas tableau in the US featuring OJ Simpson as Baby Jesus. OJ at least, was an important public figure before he committed the murder; he was never actually convicted of the crime in court; and most importantly, he did not film the act for posterity. On the other hand, Shambhu Lal is a nobody who might have committed the crime and filmed it solely to get a shot at fame.

Shambhu Lal Regar and the people who celebrate him are the type that make the words “All Indians are my brothers and sisters” choke in your throat.

And by the looks of it, he’s made it.

What should have been his downfall, has become his moment of triumph, as his hateful communal rant against love jihad in the aftermath of the murder has found resonance with the Hindutva faithful.

The support for Regar is a shocker. This is not to pretend that Indian society wasn’t already polarised before the incident, but even when the folks who pretend to be human on the internet, celebrated the killings of journalists like Gauri Lankesh, nobody spoke up in support of the murderers. With Regar though, the criminal was reimagined as a crusader fighting to right society’s wrongs. This is what happens after an overconsumption of hardline Hindutva videos on the internet – we end up glorifying murderers.

Unfortunately, the celebration of a criminal like Regar isn’t even the worst part of the entire shit show. In the wake of his arrest, several like-minded turds clashed with the police in Udaipur to show their support for him. Ever since, the legend of Shambhu Lal Regar has been growing unchecked. It received a boost when he managed to skirt prison security and record two more videos from inside jail in February, where he continues to spout his bullshit about love jihad and about Hindus uniting against Muslims. He also mentions that he fears for his safety in jail, but this hardly seems like the time or place for good news.

Shambhu Lal Regar and the people who celebrate him are the type that make the words “All Indians are my brothers and sisters” choke in your throat. It’s depressing enough to know about what he did and that people like him exist, but seeing him glorified by hordes of admirers makes me wonder if this is indeed kalyug, where everything is topsy-turvy. But right-wing extremists seem intent on alt-facting Shambhu Lal into the pantheon of Indian heroes, as if the fact that he’s a cold-blooded murderer means nothing to them. What’s next, celebrating Nathuram Godse?

Oh, wait.