The Haryana government has refused permission to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) for taking out the Jal Abhishek yatra in Muslim-dominated Nuh district on 28 August, as per various reports.
The yatra was earlier scheduled on 31 July but was attacked by members of the Muslim community before it could start, and was thus disrupted.
As per reports, Nuh district commissioner Dhirendra Khadgata officially rejected the permission request on Tuesday (22 August) evening. The reason reportedly was that the police and intelligence had expressed apprehension that the yatra could lead to law and order problems.
On 31 July, more than 3,000 people turned up from across Haryana in Nuh for the yatra. At several spots including a popular Shiv temple in Nalhar village and a Ram-krishna temple in Singar village, the devotees came under attack from locals, many of whom used the hills to pelt stones and glass bottles from.
The trigger of the attack, as evident from social media posts by Nuh residents, was their opposition to Monu Manesar, who is the state Gau Rakshak dal head for VHP’s youth-wing Bajrang Dal. Manesar had announced his willingness to join the yatra in Nuh through a social media post ten days earlier.
Four people, including two home guards, died on the spot after sustaining severe wounds while two others, a Hindu and a Muslim, were killed in retaliatory violence that spread outside of Nuh the same evening.
More than 250 people have been arrested so far for the violence.
After the police crackdown on the rioters in Nuh, the VHP announced its intention to take out the yatra again on 28 August.
The organisation has not yet issued a statement on denial of police permission.
What is the yatra about?
The Brij Mandal Jal Abhishek Yatra as it is called, has been a tradition for at least three years, having started by the VHP in association with some other religious groups. Devotees gather at the Nalhar Shiv temple, and proceed for ‘Mewat Darshan’ that involves visiting important temples across Nuh.
Readers may note that Nuh was called Mewat until 2016 when the Manohar Lal Khattar-government led Haryana government changed the name. The term ‘Mewat’ is derived from the Meo jaati that dominates not just Nuh but parts of Rajasthan including Alwar and Bharatpur as well as some parts of Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura district. This geographical region is commonly called Mewat too. The term 'Mewati' is exclusively used for Meo Muslims.
The yatra is called Jal Abhishek yatra as it begins by pouring water on a Shivling in the Nalhar temple, which is surrounded by steep hills on three sides.
Devotees then proceed to visit the Jhirakeshwar Mahadev and the Radha Krishna Temple in the Singar village of Punhana Tehsil of Nuh. Then they visit the Shringeshwar Mahadev Temple before returning to Gurugram’s Sohna where the yatra began. The Shiv temples are said to be from the Pandava era.
Gurugram resident Amit Kumar, who calls himself Amit Hindu and is affiliated to several Hindu organisations including the VHP, told Swarajya that the yatra roughly begins by 11 am and wraps up by 5 pm. He said he has been attending the yatra since its inception by the VHP in 2021.
However, he said that the yatra was not really started by the VHP but popularised by it and organised on a larger scale than in the past. He explained, “Our fathers and grandfathers would also visit the Nalhar temple in the Shravan month, and then visit some prominent temples nearby. The VHP decided to organise it for yatris from all over the state.”
Shravan or Sawan is the fifth month of the Hindu calendar, considered to be very auspicious. Devotees pray Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in this month. This year, it began on 4 July in north India.
Amit said that the stated aim of the yatra was to keep the temples functional else they would be encroached. Nuh, as per estimates, is more than 90 per cent Muslim. The district was rated lowest in the country on various human development indices by the Central government’s Niti Aayog in 2018. The district is also notorious for illegal cattle slaughter trade and cybercrimes.
Asked if the yatra could be stopped permanently, Amit said as per his understanding, that was the very aim of the rioters.
Amit said that while there are high chances that the yatra would not get permission the next year too, activists such as him would "still go there with as many people as we can". "The question of whether the yatra will be allowed to be carried out the next year is on every Hindu activist's mind. But we will not sit quiet if that happens," he said.
Swarajya tried to contact senior officials from the VHP for a comment, but they did not answer the calls. We also tried contacting Haryana police for a comment, but an officer called the question "irrelevant for now" and declined to answer.
Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!