In an unexpected turn of events on Tuesday, the Haryana Police arrested Mohit Yadav, a prominent Hindu Vishwa Parishad (VHP) leader, better known by his alias Monu Manesar.
Hours later, the Rajasthan Police took him into custody after a direction by the court.
Manesar, who helms the 'gau raksha' unit of the VHP’s ground wing Bajrang Dal, a renowned Hindu organisation, has increasingly found himself amidst swirling controversies over the past eight months.
As per various news reports, Manesar was arrested on 12 September around 10.30 am by a joint team of Haryana Police’s Crime Branch and Nuh Police’s Cyber Crime Police.
Following his court appearance, he was subsequently transferred to the custody of the Deeg Police from Rajasthan.
The Haryana Police arrested Manesar for a case filed in relation to the recent violence in Nuh, where a Hindu procession came under attack from members of Nuh’s majority Muslim residents on 31 July.
Meanwhile, the Rajasthan Police took his custody in relation to the murder of two suspected cow smugglers, Nasir and Junaid, in February.
The VHP was prompt in criticising the arrest, calling the move by the Haryana police a "betrayal", and insinuating that the Rajasthan government was pandering to Muslim electorates.
VHP’s working president Alok Kumar called Manesar “innocent”, and questioned the move by Rajasthan Police “despite giving him a clean chit earlier”.
“He has been arrested to appease Muslim voters, which will prove costly to the Rajasthan government,” Kumar said in an X (formerly Twitter) post, which was reposted by VHP’s official X account. Bharat Bhushan, state coordinator of Bajrang Dal, Haryana, said the arrest was a betrayal by the BJP.
Details Of Police Cases Against Manesar
In Nuh’s violence
The case in Haryana against Manesar was filed at Nuh’s cyber police station on 26 August, that is a month after the Nuh violence, on the statement of a police officer.
The complaint against him was that he outraged religious sentiments and threatened to disrupt communal peace through a video he posted on his social media account 10 days before the violence.
The police booked him under IPC sections 153A, 295A, 298, 504 and 109. After his arrest on Tuesday, sections of the Arms Act were added as Manesar was allegedly found with a gun, a .45 pistol and three cartridges.
However, the said video, which Swarajya has seen, only shows Manesar appealing to his social media followers to join the procession on 31 July in large numbers. He says in the video that he, too, would be present for the procession in Nuh.
A week before the first information report (FIR) against Manesar was filed at Nuh, ADG Law and Order, Haryana, Mamta Singh, echoed the sentiment when she told a news channel that no case of hate speech was made out against him.
She said, “If you hear the audio of Manesar’s social media post before the July 31 yatra, he says: ‘main aa raha hun, aap bhi aayie yatra mein’ (I am coming for the yatra, you join in too). I doubt if simply announcing that he is coming for a yatra falls in the bracket of hate speech."
The procession in question, called Brij Mandal Jal Abhishek Yatra, has been a feature in Nuh for at least three years, having started by the VHP in association with some local religious groups. Devotees gather at the Nalhar Shiv temple in Nuh, and proceed for ‘Mewat Darshan’ that involves visiting important temples across Nuh.
Readers may note that the Nuh district is part of Mewat region, where Meo jati, which is almost wholly Islamised, dominates.
The region extends to Bharatpur and Alwar districts of Rajasthan and Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh. Nuh was called Mewat until 2016 when the Manohar Lal Khattar-government led Haryana government changed the name.
This yatra is a continuation of an already existing tradition among Hindu residents of Haryana to visit the Nalhar Shiv Temple in the month of Shravan, which is the fifth month of the Hindu calendar, considered to be very auspicious.
Manesar’s social media post expressing his willingness to join the yatra in Nuh evidently became a trigger for the attack, as several Nuh residents posted threats to him and other participants ahead of the yatra.
Notably, Manesar is a hated figure in Mewat for his ‘gau raksha’ activities, where he and his team of ‘gau rakshaks’ intercept vehicles suspected of illegally carrying cattle for slaughter.
Readers may also note that Mewat is a notorious hub for cattle smuggling and slaughter, besides cyber frauds.
In the murder of two Mewatis from Rajasthan
Nasir and Junaid, both Meo and residents of Ghatmika village in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan, went missing on 15 February this year.
The next day, their charred bodies were found in Loharu in Haryana’s Bhiwani district. Their families accused Haryana’s ‘gau rakshaks’ for their murder, naming Manesar as one of the suspects.
Manesar, in his defence, produced a CCTV footage that he said showed him at a hotel in Gurugram on the night of the alleged crime.
In May, the Rajasthan Police investigating the case filed the charge-sheet accusing three men namely Rinku Saini, Monu Rana alias Narendra Kumar and Gogi alias Monu for their murder, leaving out Manesar.
Manesar was not named as the key accused but marked for larger investigation. Responding to a media query last month, the DGP of the Rajasthan Police, Umesh Mishra, repeated that Manesar was not found directly involved in the killing of Junaid and Nasir.
Why The Arrest Now?
Despite Manesar not being found as a key accused in the Nasir-Junaid murder case, leaders and social media influencers of the Meo Muslim community have been depicting him as such.
They have been rallying against Manesar for several months now, mislabeling him, seemingly in a bid to show the BJP-led Haryana government as anti-Muslim and as using state institutions such as police to deny justice to Muslims.
One of the key figures leading this narrative is Congress MLA from Nuh, Mamman Khan, who took Manesar’s name in assembly some months ago, even issuing a threat that Mewatis would crush him like an onion if he entered Mewat.
Interestingly, the social media threats issued by Mewatis ahead of the July yatra used the same vocabulary as Khan of crushing Manesar like an onion.
The special investigation team probing the Nuh violence served notice to Khan last month to appear before it for questioning.
However, Khan has repeatedly failed to do so. The arrest of Manesar has seems to have paved the way for Khan's arrest.
The same day Manesar was arrested, Khan approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking protection from possible arrest by the police. Interestingly, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar met the family of Abhishek, a victim of Nuh violence, in Panipat, the same day Manesar was arrested.
The arrest by Rajasthan Police of Manesar has also come at a time when the assembly elections in Rajasthan are barely two months away.
The statement by VHP chief that the Rajasthan Police’s move to arrest Manesar is an attempt to appease Muslim voters, is thus significant as the demand for Manesar’s arrest indeed has become a political rallying point of anti-BJP parties and their supporters.
Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.
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