Communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh and Gurugram earlier this week left at least six people dead. Two home guards, an imam at a mosque and a Bajrang Dal member were among those who died.
On Wednesday, Haryana’s Home Minister Anil Vij told reporters that social media played a crucial role in the violence and added that action would be taken against those who have posted anything provocative.
“I urge people to not post anything on social media,” Vij said. “Do not forward posts blindly. You must realise that we are supervising every activity. We have to ensure peace and stability in our state first.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader told reporters that Hindus and Muslims in Nuh have been living peacefully. “There is a conspiracy behind this,” Vij claimed. “The way stones, weapons, bullets were found, it seems there is a mastermind behind this. We will conduct a detailed investigation and take strict actions against the people involved in this.”
The violence started as a clash between Hindus and Muslims during the Brij Mandal Jalabhishek Yatra, a procession organised by the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, on Monday. The Hindutva groups are components of the Sangh Parivar, of which the BJP is a political affiliate. The violence soon spread beyond Nuh, with Gurugram in particular witnessing widespread arson and mob attacks on Muslim homes and shops.
Here’s a timeline of the violence so far:
The immediate trigger of the violence in Nuh may have been a video posted by Mohit Yadav alias Monu Manesar. The cow vigilante is wanted for the alleged murder of two Muslim men in February.
In the video, shared on Facebook on July 30, Manesar urged Hindus to participate in the Brij Mandal Jalabhishek Yatra in Nuh’s Mewat town. He himself would join, he declared, despite being a wanted man. He eventually did not turn up, however.
Another cow vigilante named Bittu Bajrangi also uploaded a series of videos announcing his arrival in Mewat. “Let me share my location otherwise they will say that I visited my in-laws and did not even meet,” he said in one of the videos posted on July 30. Bajrangi also said that he was at Pali at the time and would be reaching Mewat soon. He was accompanied by some of his followers.
Another such video uploaded on July 30 featured a soundtrack with the lyrics: “Gunshots will be fired, the father will remain the father.” The caption read, “I am coming to Mewat tomorrow.” Monday, that is.
Monday, July 31
On Monday, just hours before violence erupted in Nuh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad General Secretary Surendra Jain was at Nalhar Mahadev Mandir in Mewat, where he delivered an incendiary speech against Muslims.
“We have to change the character of Mewat,” he declared. “Mewat is not the land of cow killers, Hindu killers, ISI agents, Rohingya and Bangladeshi infiltrators, or those who convert Hindus.”
He claimed that the ancestors of India’s Muslims were Hindus who had been forcibly converted. He also talked about the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, warning that it would meet the same fate as the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
Now, as the procession went through Nuh, it was pelted with stones by a mob of local Muslims.
Initial reports suggested that the Hindu devotees participating in the procession had been stranded in a temple complex for several hours, surrounded by a violent mob.
The head priest of the temple, Deepak Sharma, told Scroll that the procession reached the temple at around 1.30 pm. After about two hours, when some of the devotees set out to resume the yatra after lunch, they were attacked by Muslims on the road leading to the temple. “The atmosphere was very tense and around 2,500 people were taking shelter in the temple,” Sharma said.
The mob did not attack the temple, however. “They were at least a kilometre away,” the priest said.
The police arrived shortly after and dispersed the mob after a couple of hours. “By 6 pm-6.30 pm everyone could go back home or wherever they were headed safely,” said the priest.
Usha Kundu, additional superintendent of the Nuh police, said the mob was at a considerable distance from the temple. “We were at the spot, but the mob was quite far away from the temple,” said Kundu.
A video that subsequently emerged showed a man firing from inside the temple complex in Mewat. He was accompanied by several other men carrying guns. It also showed police personnel standing close by but doing nothing to control the situation.
Another video showed members of the Bajrang Dal carrying guns and shouting slogans of “Jai Shri Ram”.
After the clashes in Nuh, Bajrang Dal leader Neeraj Vats had gone live on Facebook and urged Hindus to identify Muslims in their localities and target them.
The violence soon spread across Nuh and Gurugram.
Tuesday, August 1
In Gurugram, a mob burnt down a mosque in Sector 57 and killed its deputy imam, Mohammed Saad, in the early hours of Tuesday.
According to a complaint filed by a sub inspector of the Gurugram police who witnessed the attack, a mob of “90-100 people” threw stones and fired at the police party deployed outside the mosque when they tried to intervene. “They were armed with sticks and guns and were chanting slogans of Jai Shri Ram even as they surrounded the mosque from all sides,” the complaint said.
Saad’s brother, Mohammad Shadab, said his body bore several bullet injuries. “There are cut marks on his neck too,” he said.
A mob also set ablaze two shops in Gurugram’s Badshahpur.
Soon after, the Haryana government suspended mobile internet in Gurugram, Faridabad and Nuh until Wednesday.
That night, however, mobs burned down a shop and several shanties in Sector 70. They set fire to the shanties after telling the families of Muslim migrant workers living in Sector 70 to pack up and leave. As panic set in, thousands of Muslims fled their homes even as the police assured them of safety.
“We don’t have money to go back and even have debts to pay to the local shopkeepers,” a Muslim migrant worker, Shamim Hussain, 25, told NDTV. “It’s okay if something happens to me, but I have a one-year-old son. It is my sincere request to the government, district administration and local residents to protect us. Help us, please.”
The mobs also set fire to five godowns in Gurugram and vandalised two meat shops.
Wednesday, August 2
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal organised protests across Delhi against the violence in Nuh and Gurugram. Although the Supreme Court had directed the authorities to ensure that there was no violence or hate speech at the protests, videos on social media showed the demonstrators outside the Nangloi police station in West Delhi calling for a boycott of Muslim businesses and the removal of Muslims tenants. One speaker said that the Delhi police must verify the identities of all tenants and street vendors . “Will we turn Delhi into UP or not?” he asked, amid loud cheering.
In Gurugram, the police on Wednesday confirmed the death of Pradeep Sharma, a 32-year-old Bajrang Dal member, the Hindustan Times reported. He was attacked with a sharp object on Monday near the town of Sohna while he on his way to Gurugram.
According to the police, Sharma sustained injuries all over his body, including his head. He was taken to the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi, but succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, fresh violence was reported in Nuh, where miscreants attempted to set two mosques on fire in Tauru town on Wednesday night. The attacks took place even though Nuh was under curfew. Nobody was hurt, the police told Scroll.
As arson and vandalism continued in Gurugram, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar asked the central government to send four more teams of security forces. Twenty companies of central forces had already been deployed – 14 in Nuh, three in Palwal, two in Gurugram, one in Faridabad.
Thursday, August 3
The Haryana police said they had registered 41 FIRs, arrested 116 people and detained 90.
The government temporarily lifted the ban on mobile internet services between 1 pm and 4 pm in Nuh, Faridabad and Palwal to allow students appearing for examinations to download their admit cards.
There have been no reports of fresh violence, but the situation remains tense.