A Hindu religious procession that started from Haryana’s Gurugram was attacked and pelted with stones in the adjoining district of Nuh by members of the Muslim community on Monday (31 July).
Two home guards, Neeraj and Gursewak, died in the attack on the same day.
Violence soon spread to Gurugram and other adjoining areas of Nuh, where people vandalised and burnt properties belonging to the other community.
Four civilians have been killed, believed to be targeted in hate attacks. The names include Shakti Kumar, a shop owner, Abhishek Kumar, a procession participant, Pradeep Sharma, a member of Bajrang Dal and Hafiz Saad, a mosque cleric. Hundreds other are left injured.
As reported by Swarajya earlier, the trigger of the violence was mobilisation among the Meo community in response to an announcement made by Monu Manesar that he would be joining the procession in Nuh.
It happened around 10 days before the procession.
Manesar is a Bajrang Dal leader and head of its ‘gau rakshak’ dal in the state and a social media influencer.
He is a hated figure among the Meos for his ‘gau raksha’ activities where he and his team chase and intercept vehicles suspected of carrying stolen or smuggled cattle for slaughter. Nuh is a notorious hub of cow slaughter and beef trade.
The region of Mewat, which takes its name after the dominant Meo jati, is spread across Nuh in Haryana, and Alwar and Bharatpur districts of Rajasthan, besides some parts of Uttar Pradesh such as Mathura. The Meo jati, whose members claim Rajput ancestry, have almost been wholly Islamised.
Manesar was also named as a suspect by the family of victims in the infamous Nasir-Junaid murder case.
Nasir and Junaid, both Meo and residents of Ghatmika village in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan, were found burnt to death in Loharu in Haryana’s Bhiwani district. Their families accused ‘gau rakshaks’ for their murder, naming Monu Manesar as one of the suspects.
In their investigation, the Rajasthan Police did not name Manesar as a key accused, but have named him in the chargesheet for larger investigation.
After news of Manesar’s possible visit to Nuh spread, residents planned an attack on him. Social media is rife with videos and posts where Meos left death threats for Manesar and his Bajrang Dal team a day before the procession.
A report by Hindustan Times says that between 21 and 23 July, strategic meetings were held to decide on the plan to attack the procession. WhatsApp groups were formed to coordinate, people were designated leaders and assigned responsibilities, and stones were gathered and assembled.
Empty glass bottles of cold-drink were also collected in large numbers. Those were meant to be thrown at the procession as well as filled with petrol to make petrol bombs.
More than 200 motorcycles were marked for use, and their number plates were painted black so that they would not be identified by police in any footage.
A crowd of 300 people were already in wait in the hills surrounding the Nalhar Mahadev temple with their weapons — primarily bottles and stones.
It is the same temple in which thousands of devotees and participants of procession took shelter in when the attack started.
Swarajya has reported that soon after the initial bout of stone-pelting, a group of rioters took over a public bus and rammed the vehicle into the cyber police station that was set up two years ago. They damaged the premises, destroyed the files and documents, and tried to burn those.
The act is being widely seen as an attempt to wipe out criminal records of cyber frauds, of which Nuh is a hotspot. More than half of the country’s cyber frauds have roots in the Mewat region.
As per reports, Nuh and surrounding areas of Palwal, Gurugram Faridabad are fortified with deployment of 14 paramilitary forces and 20 companies of Haryana Police.
Meanwhile, the Rajasthan police are facing criticism for having not arrested Manesar. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has said that the state police would extend cooperation in his arrest. He also said that a total of 116 people have been arrested for rioting so far.
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