At the tail end of 2017, a Muslim labourer was hacked and burnt alive by a Hindu man in Rajasthan. He recorded the bloody act on video as he went on blame "love jihad" — the propaganda that Muslim men in India conspire to convert Hindu women by marrying them — for his own heinous crimes. Shambhulal Regar from Rajsamand was promptly arrested and jailed. But his high-security prison cell, it would seem, is not strong enough to prevent the man from spreading his hateful ideology and beliefs over video once again.
According to multiple reports, imprisoned at the Jodhpur Central Jail, Shambhulal Regar has released self-shot videos, now advocating that Hindus need to put up a united front to fight the “jihadi forces” in the country. Regar can be seen clad in a hood, earphones plugged in, reading out from what appears to be a islamaphobic manifesto.
In the two new videos in circulation, as per reports, Regar continues his provocation against "jihadis". He speaks about the crime for which he was arrested — for which he expresses no visible guilt — saying: "I couldn't bear threats to Hindu women. I have ruined my life and I don't regret it. But I am sad about the fact that the law and the media showed illicit relationship with her and me.”
He also spoke of threats to his life, accusing a fellow inmate, Vasudev from Bangladesh of harbouring intentions to kill him, adding that this may just be one of his last videos. But how does a man accused of murder and hate crime, locked up in a secure prison, manage to make more videos full of religious intolerance and talk of communal hatred?
State home minister Gulab Chand Kataria has ordered an investigation into how Regar accessed a phone inside the well guarded prison. The Jodhpur Central Jail administration, The Quint reported, has launched an "intense search operation" to find out how Regar was able to make the videos using a cell phone. He could have used the cell phone of another inmate, but the jail authorities have failed to recover a mobile phone so far.
In fact, Regar has told the police it wasn't his phone, though he has refused to reveal who it belongs to. According to a report by NDTV, only 2G jammers work at the jail complex. For what it’s worth, security around Regar's cell has been beefed up.
Regar’s videos have brought fresh criticism for Vasundhara Raje’s BJP government in Rajasthan, as well as the Hindutva ideology of hate that Regar subscribes to.
There have, of course, been multiple instances of inmates getting caught with cell phones in prison. Whether through political clout or through trickery, contraband has always made its way into prison. And more often than not, contraband such as this is recovered by the authorities.
So why does Shambhulal Regar’s act shock us?
A man guilty of committing hate crime has found a way to continue with his steady stream of propaganda — propaganda that a lot of people subscribe to. This incident also highlights some problems in prison security in India. According to a Times of India report, outdated 2G jammers are used in the Jodhpur prison. The report adds that while mobile phone jammers have been installed in the jail to keep a check on behaviour such as this, outdated technology used by these jammers in the era of 3G and 4G technology has made them redundant, and the jail inmates have been regularly found to be using mobile phones.
Jail superintendent Vikram Singh, admitting to this serious security lapse, said: “Such videos are being posted from jails very frequently. It puts a big question mark on security in the jail. We will take this matter very seriously,” adding that a proposal to install new jammers has already been sent to the government, but nothing has been done to replace the old 2G jammers.