One defendant had a general store, the other was a welder

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About 3 km from Udaipur market where Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor, was killed with an ax Tuesday, is a small general store, on the ground floor of a two-story house in Raza Colony. The shop is closed, as is the house. Two police officers stand guard outside. The shop and the house belong to Ghouse Mohammad, one of the two men who killed Lal.

The settlement is part of the larger Khanjipeer locality in Udaipur, a predominantly Muslim district. Neighbors said Ghouse, in his 30s, mostly stayed alone. “He was deeply religious. He kept to himself. We have never heard his name associated with any form of violence,” said resident Mohammed Rafique.

Mohammed Umar, another neighbor, said Ghouse, a father of two, was previously a “collection agent” with an investment agency. “Many people in this locality made recurring deposits with him on a daily basis. After the company became entangled in allegations of fraud, many lost their money. Subsequently, together with his father, he opened a general store,” he said.

“No father or mother would want their children to be criminals. It is because of outside influence. A day after the incident, her father broke down and said, “Isne kya kara. Usne na mera izzat ka khayal kara, na mera buzurgi ka khayal kara’ (What did he do? He didn’t care about my honor or my old age),” said Shama Khan, a resident of the area, adding that Ghouse’s family left home soon after.

A few houses further down a down alley is the house where Mohammad Riyaz, the second defendant, also in his thirties, lived. The house is locked and police are deployed outside.

“I had rented two ground floor rooms in Riyaz – he moved here on June 12. Riyaz is a welder and was staying here with his wife and two children. I couldn’t find anything suspicious about him. I had asked him for rent in advance but he said he couldn’t pay it. His family left after the incident. I haven’t received my rent yet,” said the owner of the house, also named Mohammed Umar.

Qayyum Baig, a welder who previously worked with Riyaz, said the latter had worked in Udaipur for two decades.

A senior police officer who is part of the investigation team said that at first glance it appeared Riyaz had welded the knife used to kill Lal.

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