Haryana Unveils Plan To Protect Hindu Minority In Mewat After Reports Reveal Atrocities And Call It ‘Graveyard Of Hindus’

Haryana Unveils Plan To Protect Hindu Minority In Mewat After Reports Reveal Atrocities And Call It ‘Graveyard Of Hindus’ Chief Minister of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar (Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • Haryana government will soon pass laws in the state to ban forced religious conversions, fast track cases related to cow slaughter, protect Hindu properties in Nuh district apart from stationing armed police battalion in the region to supplement the local police in maintaining law and order.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar visited Mewat district (renamed as Nuh recently) yesterday (16 June) and announced a slew of measures to protect the interests of Hindu minority, mostly members of scheduled castes (SCs), who are living in this Muslim majority district. For past few decades, the population of Muslims has been increasing at the expense of that of Hindus in Nuh.

Those who could afford to move out have already done so but the remaining Hindu population left in Nuh is overwhelmingly poor and from the SCs. Many cases of brutal atrocities against them have surfaced in the past few years.

CM Khattar’s visit to the district came on the backdrop of release of two reports which highlighted the precarious situation of Hindu minority and atrocities committed against it by the dominant Muslim Community. The reports were authored by teams led by Major General G.D. Bakshi (Retd) and former district and sessions court judge of Haryana Justice Pawan Kumar.

The reports detail an alarming story of rampant abduction, rape and murder of women (including minors) from minority Hindu community, forced religious conversions of hundreds of Hindu men and women to Islam, incidents of theft of their valuables, emptying the villages of minorities by forcing the Hindu families to flee and then occupying their properties, and so on.

CM Khattar held discussion with Hindu and Muslim organisations in the district and announced a slew of measures to address the issues of contention between Muslims and Hindus so that sense of security and peace returns to the area.

Chiefly, the CM made four key promises to protect the interests of minorities:

a) cases under the ‘Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015’ will be tried in the fast track courts.

b) a new legislation ‘Freedom of religion act’ will be passed banning forced religious conversions in the state.

c) the IRB Battalion currently stationed in Gurgaon will be moved to Nuh where it will supplement the state police in maintaining law and order. This battalion will consist of armed police forces and help the district authorities in ensuring peace and security in the region.

d) a Dharmada act will be passed to ensure that the properties of minority community are protected and not be occupied by the majority.

Theoretically, these four measures address the major points of pain inflicted on the minorities in Nuh, their effectiveness is a concern because in most of the states, anti-conversion and anti cow-slaughter acts have proven to be paper tigers with little to show for in terms of convictions. Even if cases are filed, accused are not arrested, if they are arrested, they are released on bail quickly. Very few cases reach the courts and in most instances, the accused get acquitted. When it comes to these kind of laws, the devil is truly in the implementation.

Anti-conversion laws have particularly terrible record. So far, eight states have passed the so-called ‘freedom of religion’ acts but they have led to few arrests and no convictions.

As far as Haryana’s anti cow-slaughter act is concerned, it is a big failure in Nuh district. From 2015 to 2019, 792 FIRs were registered here under this law out of which only 13 cases reached the courts and not a single accused was convicted. The problem was not with the toughness of the act but how badly it was implemented. The government didn’t even care to frame the rules under the act for more than four years making it difficult for the Police to do its job. The Punjab and Haryana High Court not only pulled up the government for its lax attitude but also the police force for not carrying out proper investigation in cases related to cow theft and slaughter.

Nonetheless, these acts are important. They are certainly necessary but not sufficient. The government can be commended for finally acting on these items but it will have to go beyond passing acts and show action on the ground to earn the vote of confidence of the minority Hindu population in Nuh which feels increasingly alienated, threatened and oppressed.

Members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had met Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and apprised him of the findings of the reports by Justice Pawan Kumar and Major General G.D. Bakshi (retd). The organisation seems satisfied by the steps announced by the government but will turn its focus now on making sure that the laws are made quickly and implemented well.

”We hope that the law will be passed soon and more importantly that those laws will be implemented strictly and effectively. The latter is key to ensuring that interests of minority Hindu population are safeguarded in Nuh. To give an example, the anti cow slaughter act was touted as really tough when it was passed in 2015 but not a single section of that act is implemented in Nuh. That’s the real challenge,” Vinod Bansal, national spokesperson of the VHP, told Swarajya over phone.

“But the chief minister has given assurance that there will be radical transformation in police forces in Nuh district. This is important because some current officials posted here are either in cahoots with the criminals or afraid going into Muslim majority areas to catch criminals lest they be violently attacked. We will play a constructive role in ensuring that the acts passed by the government are implemented well in Nuh,” he added.

Justice Pawan Kumar who headed the team that published report on atrocities on members of SCs calls these steps “encouraging”. “The government has acknowledged the pain that the minority has been feeling and these measures will go a long way in giving them confidence and a sense of security,” he told Swarajya over phone.

Justice Kumar also believes that implementation will be the key but calls these decisions historic, “something that didn’t happen for decades has finally been delivered by the government” he says.

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