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Communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh reaches near India’s capital, killing five wounding many

The communal violence in Haryana's Nuh was reportedly triggered by the presence of hate crime suspect Monu Manesar in a Bajrang Dal-VHP rally.

Communal violence in Haryana's Nuh reaches near India's capital, killing five wounding many

The Mewat region of Haryana experienced major communal strife on Monday, July 31st, after a political rally by Hindutva organisations turned violent. The incident of communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh, which is home to the Meo Muslim community also spilt to Gurugram, the satellite township of capital New Delhi on Monday night.

Five, including two home guards, were killed due to the communal violence in Nuh and Gurugram, while over 30, including senior police officials, have been wounded. The state government under Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has asked the Union government to deploy federal paramilitary troops in the regions affected by the violence, which has been reportedly approved and 20 companies have been deployed.

The communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh was reportedly triggered by a rally called “Brij Mandal Jalabhishek Yatra” organised by Hindutva-driven Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Monday from Nuh to Ferozepur Jhirka. It’s alleged that the participants of the rally got engaged in a scuffle with the local residents in the Khedla Mod area when stones were pelted at them. The police alleged that the locals had pelted stones at the Bajrang Dal-VHP rally, while the latter has denied it.

The scuffle snowballed into a major conflict, in which two homeguards were killed and ten, including police officers, were injured. The police informed that “one or two cars” participating in the rally were set ablaze by miscreants. Later, the violence spilt to Gurgaon, where armed Bajrang Dal activists gathered in large numbers in the evening and started vandalism on the Gurgaon-Sohna Highway, attacking cars and shops on the way. Later, on Monday night, a mosque in Gurgaon’s Sector 57 was set on fire and two, including the 26-year-old Imam, were shot dead. According to the police, five suspects have been detained in this case.

Khattar appealed to the people of the state to maintain peace and harmony and not to fall for misleading propaganda. The government has declared a curfew in the region and snapped internet connections in Nuh, Sohna, Pataudi and Manesar areas. After the Union paramilitary forces arrived in Haryana, the police and the forces took out flag marches in the violence-hit areas and detained 27 people.

The Opposition, especially former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of the Indian National Congress (INC) condemned the violence, blaming the BJP government’s lack of preparation for the incident. His son and INC’s Rajya Sabha member (MP) Deepender Hooda alleged that there was a lack of police deployment during the rally that was passing through a sensitive area.

It’s alleged that Monu Manesar, a Bajrang Dal activist and a suspect in several cases of hate crimes against the Meo Muslims, especially those related to cow vigilantism, was also present in the rally flagged off by a BJP leader. Manesar’s presence is also seen as a potential catalyst of the communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh.

Manesar, infamous for his hate speeches and for inciting communal violence, reportedly claimed in an objectionable video that he will stay at Nuh during the Bajrang Dal and VHP’s rally and challenged the local Muslims. This video has reportedly irked the local youth, who protested against Manesar during the rally.

State Home Minister Anil Vij has pointed towards a “larger conspiracy” behind the communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh, indirectly blaming the Muslims for it. He informed the press that nearly 2,500 Bajrang Dal and VHP activists were “taken hostage” in the Narhar temple and were later rescued from there. There has been no indication from Vij or Khattar regarding taking any steps against the members of Bajrang Dal and VHP, especially Manesar, for their involvement in the incidents of vandalism and violence.

The communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh appears as an indicator of the deteriorating law and order situation and communal harmony in the state that’s been ruled by the BJP since 2014. The Bajrang Dal and the VHP are affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the fountainhead of ultra-right Hindutva ideology. They are considered key allies of India’s federally ruling BJP, the parliamentary wing of the RSS.

As India’s Opposition gears up attacks against the BJP-led Union government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Manipur carnage where ethnic violence has killed over 150 from May 3rd onwards, the incident of communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh created a major setback for the government.

The incident took place soon after the conclusion of a five-day-long official India tour by Muslim World League’s Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa and his entourage, who met President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Modi and other top leaders. Al-Issa’s India tour is seen as an attempt by the far-right Hindu nationalist Modi government to project itself as an inclusive one. The communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh appears to have harmed this attempt by the Modi government.

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