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Indian police arrest suspect in brutal video murder

© AFP/File | Attacks against Muslims by Hindu vigilantes in India have spiked in recent months

NEW DELHI (AFP) - 

Indian police on Thursday arrested a Hindu man over the murder of a Muslim labourer after identifying him from a video of the brutal killing that went viral and has sparked widespread outrage.

The footage shows a man hitting labourer Afrazul Khan with a pickaxe and a machete before pouring kerosene over his body and setting it alight.

Afterwards the attacker can be heard warning against so-called "love jihad", a term used by religious radicals in India to accuse Muslims of marrying Hindu women in order to convert them.

The killing occurred in western Rajasthan state, which has seen a series of vigilante attacks on Muslims in recent months.

Most of the attacks have been related to the transporting of cows, which Hindus consider sacred, by so-called "cow protection" groups who roam highways inspecting livestock trucks.

The state's police chief O. P. Galhotra told reporters the suspect had been charged with murder, calling it a "brutal crime".

Police have also detained the suspect's 14-year-old nephew, who they say recorded the killing.

Religious conversion has become a flashpoint issue for Hindu nationalists in recent years.

Last month, thousands of copies of a controversial booklet were distributed to students at an event in Rajasthan warning Hindu girls of "love jihad".

In April a 20-year-old Muslim man was lynched in eastern Jharkhand state for dating a Hindu woman.

Critics say vigilantes have been emboldened since the election of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014.

© 2017 AFP