In Nuh The Air Is Thick With Anxiety
The Citizen reports from violence torn Nuh, Haryana
There is an eerie silence in Haryana’s Nuh District. Hardly a couple of people are seen walking the deserted roads, which till yesterday were brimming with people. On Monday, Nuh saw intense violence after which Section 144 was imposed in the area and internet services were suspended.
A largely Muslim dominated area, Nuh has been witnessing tensions, especially since cow vigilante Monu Manesar has been harassing meat exporters and beating them up for carrying “beef”.
In the city of Nuh, all the markets are now shut with media vans standing in a corner. A couple of people are sitting on the stairs of their house under the screeching sun.
Mustafa Badar, a local in the area spoke to The Citizen trying to explain what happened on Monday. “We have to understand that there was anger against Monu Manesar, especially since the Bhiwani murder case (the victims, Junaid and Nasir were beaten by Manesar after which their charred bodies were found by the police).
“However, on Sunday evening he posted a video saying that he will be coming to the yatra and we Muslims should welcome their brother-in-law,” Badar explained.
The shobha yatra, which takes place every year, usually starts from an old Shiv temple called Nalad Shiv Mandir. Located near the hills, the procession starts from the temple and ends there itself.
“What we had not expected was the possession of weapons by the yatra goers. Not only that, they were shouting ‘Monu Manesar zindabad’. They knew our sentiments about him but instead these goons who had come from outside were saying all this. None of the locals were part of it. All of it came from the side of a local mob led by Bittu Bajrangi,” Badar added.
Bittu Bajrangi is an up-and-coming name in Haryana for his communal speech. Eventually, he was also supposed to join the procession, according to his social media update but did not show up.
While the tensions within both the communities have escalated, Badar said that they all live in harmony. However, those were not the sentiments of the Hindus in the area. Manish, who lived in the adjacent street, told The Citizen that Muslims in the area started the violence.
With now a divided sentiment, Manish said that his shop was burnt by the Muslim mob after they started pelting stones at the procession. “They first vandalised the shop and then burnt it,” he said. Opposite to the shop, a Muslim owned furniture shop was also burnt, however the Hindus did not comment on it.
Meanwhile, the people also said that the temple in the area was vandalised. While nothing happened inside the temple, the outside verandah gate was broken.
The local pandit at the temple claimed that he was also beaten up by the mob. “I was sitting in my room when Muslim mob entered and started beating me. They broke the tap water and pipe of the temple and vandalised the outside gate,” the pandit told The Citizen.
There was visible anger among the people, who said that the local Muslims were the ones who attacked them. “The Bajrang Dal was peacefully taking out the procession. They did not even have weapons,” Vinesh, a local, said.
This was said despite various videos and photos showing the mob carrying swords and guns. “These Muslims had guns. We had nothing. I demand the government to give us licensed guns because this is what the situation has come to,” Vinesh added.
Rest of the people standing with Vinesh agreed, averring that the situation has gotten worse and there is no going back. “In 1992, we saw a similar situation in Mewat but after that things were quite peaceful. But now with this, we are in fear,” Vinesh added.
Manish meanwhile, added that the Muslims in the area started the violence and torched his shop. When asked about the other shop belonging to a Muslim, they asked The Citizen to not pay attention to it.
The temple from where the procession started is barely four kilometres away from the city. In the backdrop of the hills, Nuh is surrounded by many villages which are home to farmers mostly.
But as one progresses, we can see torched vehicles, roads filled with black ashes and vandalised material lying here and there. This goes on for a kilometre, until we reach the temple. Outside the huge temple gate bricks and stones are now being cleared away.
While there was not much police deployment in the city, rural areas had more police and the temple was filled with CRPF. The pandit at the temple Deepak Sharma said he was inside the temple during the whole time as there were hundreds of devotees inside the premises at the time.
“The clash, I have been told, lasted a few hours. The sad part is due to this a lot of devotees were stuck here and could not go back home or places where they came from,” Sharma said.
Despite claims that there were hundreds of devotees that were stuck, Sharma said there were only a few who, as of now, have left the temple.
On asking whether the situation is tense, Sharma affirmed and said, “We are concerned about the temple. This is an ancient temple and all we want to do is take care of it,” he added.
While videos and photos of many yatra devotees are being circulated showing them holding weapons, the Hindus have claimed that it was the Muslims who had fired guns. This has been denied by the latter.
Badar said that none of the locals are in possession of weapons. “There are some miscreants on both sides who do carry weapons, else no one has it,” he added.
While debris of cars was visible at various locations, there is no information about how many vehicles were torched.
However, The Citizen saw many vehicles on the road, completely torched. On asking police officials about the situation at Nuh station, they said that it still “remains tense”.
“The yatra was going out after which violence erupted. Investigation is taking place and our seniors are on the ground,” an official, who did not want his name to be revealed, said.
While Manesar is still at large, locals have alleged that the Haryana Police has started arresting Muslim men from different villages.
The locals informed The Citizen that on Tuesday morning close to 30 Muslim men have been arrested by the Haryana Police in connection with the violence. This has left many families grieving.
In a small village called Muradbas 22 men were picked up, out of which many were minor. Each house in the village had at least one boy or man being picked up. However, the police have neither explained any reason nor have registered any FIR.
“On what basis were these men picked up? We were given no reason. They just came and picked up our men. The violence happened because the Bajrang Dal people instigated it and the clash happened. So, then why is only one side getting persecuted?” a resident of the village said.
A resident, Sheru Mohammed, is anxious. His 13-year-old son was picked up by the police. “At around 5 am, the police came and were in the house. I was on the cot outside. They saw me and did not do anything. Later, they saw my son and said he is a child, but returned and took him away,” he said. The Aadhar card of Sheru’s son shows he is a 13-year-old.
Fatima’s younger brother was also picked up by the police. “He was sleeping when the police came. It was 5 am. They picked him up without any reason and we have no idea where he is,” Fatima said.
Fatima’s father stands beside her saying that their child was nowhere near the violence struck area. “This is so wrong,” he said.
There is a lot of fear among the villagers who say that police’s selective arrest is concerning. “If there are culprits do arrest them but do not just pick up random young men,” another villager said.
Badar called the arrests wrong. “I think the authorities need to not attack just one community when clearly this was an instigated plan. The arrests of the young men is highly dangerous and problematic,” he added.
At least five people have lost their lives in the violence taken place at Nuh. Due to internet shutdown the residents were not aware about five deaths. At least 50 people have been injured in the clash.
The Muslims claim that some people from the yatra attacked a youth and drove their vehicle on his legs after which they retaliated.
Meanwhile, Gurgaon MP and Union Minister of State (Independent charge) Rao Inderjit Singh said it was not right for participants in a religious yatra to be carrying swords and sticks.
“Kisne hathiyar diye unko is procession mein le jaane ke liye? Koi talwar leke jata hai procession mein? Lathi-dande leke jata hai (Who gave weapons to them for the procession? Who goes to a procession carrying swords, or sticks)? This is wrong. A provocation took place from this side too. I am not saying there was no provocation from the other side,” Singh was quoted by The Indian Express as saying.
Although there was no violence on Tuesday the visible division and tensions are going to stay in the district for the time to come.