“Mewat was called Bharat ki reed ki Haddi by Mahatma Gandhi. Today it is in news for the wrong reasons… for communal riots” quipped both the Hindu and Muslim residents of Nuh, Haryana after the communal riots it witnessed on 31st July, during the Braj Mandal Jal Abhishek Yatra organized by VHP and Bajrang Dal. While the epicenter of the violence was Nuh, it spread to other parts of Haryana including Palwal, Sohna and Gurugram claiming six lives. To understand the factors behind this incident of violence, a fact-finding team comprising of Vikash Narain Rai, former Director, National Police Academy, Hyderabad and former DGP (Law and Order) Haryana, Dr. Sandhya Mhatre, Executive Council member of Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) and Neha Dabhade, Executive Director of CSSS visited Nuh, Sohna and Gurugram from 24th to 28th August, 2023.
About Mewat Landscape:
Mewat district was renamed Nuh in 2016, because Mewat is a cultural region which spans the state of Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. The district comprises Nuh, Taoru, Nagina, Ferozepur Jhirka, Indri, Punhana and Pinangwan blocks, 431 villages and 297 panchayats.
Nuh district is one of the 22 districts in the Indian state of Haryana. It has an area of 1,507 square kilometres (582sq mi) and 10.9 million population. It is bounded by Gurgaon district on the north, Rewari district on the west and Faridabad and Palwal districts on the east. It is predominantly populated by the Meos, who are agriculturalists, and Muslims.
Total population of Mewat district is 1,089,263 as per census 2011. Muslims constitutes 79.20% of Mewat population. Hindu are minority in Mewat district forming 20.37% of total population (Population Census 2011, n.d.). Nuh Town’s current population in 2023 is 22300 and 2636 houses. Hindu Population is 49 and Muslim population is 51% in the town.
How Nuh, formerly known as Mewat, went from the fabled ‘bharat ke reed ki haddi’ to being plagued by this communal riot is important to grasp to comprehend the communal riot that unfolded on 31st July in all its complexity. Mewat is the region which is spread out in some parts of Rajasthan, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. Mewat region comprises of Nuh in Haryana, Bharatpur and Alwar districts in Rajasthan and Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. Though there are state boundaries in the region which are political, socially, and culturally, there is fluidity in the region with people across state boundaries sharing similar traditions and culture. Factors such as its economic underdevelopment, illiteracy and fissures in social and political landscape can help trace the roots of this violence in Nuh. The communal riot that unfolded in Nuh can’t be understood in isolation but in an ecosystem that exists and the changes that have place over the years.
Complex History of Mewat:
The history of Meo Muslims in Mewat is a tapestry of religious diversity, cultural assimilation, and the challenges faced by a community at various points in time and the Meos have demonstrated resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity. The history of the Meo Muslims in the Mewat region is a fascinating tale of cultural and religious interactions that span centuries. From the unique beliefs of figures like Baba Laldas to the challenges faced during India’s partition in 1947, the Meo community’s journey is marked by a complex interplay of faiths, rulers, and societal changes.
One shining example of syncretic traditions of Mewat is Baba Laldas, originally named Lal Khan Meo, was born into a Muslim family in 1540. What makes him particularly remarkable is his belief in Nirguna Bhakti, a formless devotion to Lord Ram, while still adhering to Islam. Scholars have highlighted that Baba Laldas preached cow-worship, vegetarianism, and the chanting of Lord Ram’s name, showcasing a unique fusion of Islamic and Hindu elements in his spiritual practice. Interestingly, the Meo Muslims in Mewat didn’t identify themselves as completely Muslims. Over the centuries under the influence of Sufi saints, the Hindus converted into Islam but yet retained their Hindu identity in observance of festivals and social institutions like gotra etc. The contribution of Meos is also well documented in the revolt against the British in 1857 and subsequent freedom struggle and before that even against the Mughals. For instance, Hasan Khan Mewati, went to war with the Central Asian invader Babur. The Muslims the fact-finding team met lamented that though Mewat is called mini-Pakistan, the Meo Muslims are proud of their history which stands as a testimony to their fight against injustice- both against the Mughals and the British. Their bravery is legendry.
The region of Mewat is famous for its composite culture, communal harmony and the distinct identity of the Meo Muslims who inhabit the region. The Meo Muslims don’t identify themselves completely as Hindus or Muslims. There are many oral epics in this reason where Muslim jogis have popularized epics like Gopichand, Bhartrihari and Pandun ka kada, indicating their affinity with Hindu religious traditions. Ethnographers like Crooke, Sherring and Russell refer to the strong Hindu components of their tradition: their folklore which attributes their celebration of their origin to Arjuna, Krishna and Rama; Hindu festivals like Holi and Dussehra; their marriage customs which combine the nikah with Hindu ceremonies; their mixed names such as Fateh Singh, and so on (Mayaram, 1988).
In the latter half of the 14th century, a new ruling class emerged in Mewat known as the Khanzadas (1390-1527). Despite their Muslim identity, the Khanzadas traced their lineage back to the Jadon Rajputs. They played a pivotal role in shaping the Meo community by encouraging a shift from pastoral lifestyles to settled agriculture. Additionally, they actively worked on Islamizing the Meos, establishing mosques and appointing Qazis to administer Shariah law.
Close interaction with the Mughal administration resulted in the Meos adopting various Islamic practices, such as Nikah (marriage) and burial rites. Islamic festivals like Id-ul-fitr, Ramzan, Shab-e-barat, and the Urs of Sufi saint Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti gained popularity among the Meos. Moreover, Muslim names became more prevalent within the community.
As the Mughal empire weakened, the Hindu Jats began to exert their influence in Bharatpur, leading to conflicts with the Meos. In the early 1920s, the Meos faced a serious threat from the Arya Samaj’s Shuddhi movement, which aimed to reconvert them to Hinduism. In response, Meo leaders invited the Tablighi Jamaat to Mewat to strengthen their faith, leading to a ban on Hindu practices. However, full Islamization of the Meo community took several more decades.
During India’s partition in 1947, the princely states of Alwar and Bharatpur saw a violent pogrom directed against the Meos. The rulers of these states supported the Arya Samaj and Shuddhi movement, which sought to convert Muslims to Hinduism. This support led to the rise of organizations like the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Discriminatory taxation policies triggered a Meo revolt, culminating in a tragic incident in Govindgarh, Alwar, in January 1933, where the state army opened fire on a crowd, resulting in over 30 deaths.
Narayan Bhaskar Khare from the Hindu Mahasabha became the prime minister of Alwar in April 1947 and an advisor to the state of Bharatpur. He convinced India’s Home Minister Sardar Patel that a Meo revolt was brewing and that Meo areas might attempt to join Pakistan. This suspicion led to a large-scale flight of Meos from Bharatpur to Alwar on June 18, 1947, resulting in a massive loss of life. Historian Shail Mayaram estimated that a significant number of Meos sought refuge in Pakistan due to these events (Balachandran, 2023).
The people of Mewat proudly remember that Gandhi visited Ghasera village after partition when the frenzy of communalism had taken over people and the King of Alwar was spreading rumours against the Meo Muslims who revolted against him for high taxations. It was Gandhi who had stopped the Meo Muslims from Mewat from migrating to Pakistan. The Meos stayed back in India out of love for their country and became an integral part of the region.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy of Nuh. The communities in the region given the land condition and other factors have been pastoral communities. The biggest challenge to agriculture in Nuh is that it is mostly rainfed and the irrigation facility is inadequate to supply water. Thus, 400 out of 435 villages in the district are facing a water crisis. Agriculture production measured in terms of crop yield per hectare in Mewat is comparatively low to the other districts of the state. In recent years, two canals are proposed in the region which are important for Nuh. However, this makes for a stark contrast between Nuh and other parts of Haryana and Nuh and the neighbouring Punjab – regions which are rich in agriculture having substantial irrigation facilities. This lack of the crucial irrigated water has starved the agriculture and in turn the economy of the district.
Animal Husbandry, particularly dairy is the secondary source of income for people of Mewat and those who live closer to the hilly ranges of Aravali also keep a few sheep and goats. The Meo Muslims in Nuh are traditionally pastoral and the community is heavily dependent on cattle for dairy business. Cattle becomes the centre of their livelihood. This also explains the rise of cow vigilantism in the region which will be dealt with later. It is noteworthy that given the high dependency of their livelihood on the cows and cattle in culmination with cultural factors, the Meo Muslims of Mewat don’t consume beef and venerate the cows.
Till a few years back, mining was an avenue for livelihood for the youth in Nuh. But after the ban on mining brought by the Supreme Court order, mining as a source of livelihood has closed. The Niti Aayog of India has ranked Nuh the lowest on development indicators like health and education in 2018. Ironically, Nuh borders Gurugram which is an IT hub but does not have university or college other than the Shaheed Hasan Mewati Medical College which came up in 2012. Students aspiring to study in universities must go out of the district. The region in general has poor educational infrastructure leading to low literacy rates especially female literacy rate.
These restricted livelihood options along with low literacy rate have pushed the youth to take to cybercrime, giving it the notorious sobriquet of the new “jamtara” of India. The youth of Nuh have taken to sextortion and cyber frauds on different platforms like OLX. It was reported by a section of media that the attack on the cyber police station in Nuh on 31st July can be attributed to the motive of the criminals in the cases related to cyber-crimes and sextortion to destroy evidence in the cases. It is alleged that the tensions on 31st July were used as a smokescreen to tamper and destroy evidence in the cyber police station. While Nuh has been under the media limelight for the wrong reasons calling Nuh “ground zero for cybercrimes” etc. and has been at the receiving end of the police crackdown on cybercrimes, little attention or light has been shed on the deplorable economy and lack of livelihood options in the district pushing the youth to resort to such crimes. Some section of residents of Nuh believe that the police crackdown is also attributed to the Muslim majority population of the district and the action is targeted towards Muslims.
Political history of Mewat:
Before the delimitation exercise for Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha constituencies in Haryana in 2007 and 2008, all Meo-dominated assembly constituencies formed part of the Faridabad parliamentary seat. The three assembly seats under the Nuh district are Nuh, Punhana and Ferozepur Jhirka. Currently, all the three seats are held by Congress MLAs, and all of them are Meo Muslims — Aftab Ahmed from Nuh, Mohammad Ilyas from Punhana, and Moman Khan from Ferozepur Jhirka assembly constituency. About 80% of Nuh population is made up of Muslims. In the 2019 state elections, both Hathin and Sohna in Gurugram went to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with Praveen Dagar and Sanjay Singh representing the two constituencies respectively.
The political landscape of Nuh has always been dominated by a few political families. The families of Khurshid Ahmed and Tayyab Hussain have been prominent families elected multiple times. Khurshid Ahmed became a member of the legislative assembly (MLA) five times between 1962 and 1982 from Congress. He represented Nuh in 1962, 1968, and 1991 and Tauru in 1977 and 1987. His father, Kabir Ahmed, became an MLA in a by poll in 1975 and 1982, while his son Aftab Ahmed, the present MLA from Nuh, was elected to the assembly in 2009 and 2019.
Tayyab Hussain was MP 1971-1976 (Gurugram seat) and 1980-1986 (Faridabad seat) and MLA from Janata Party from the region. Zakir Hussain, his son, is a three-time MLA, and the administrator of the Haryana Waqf Board. He won the 1991 election as an Independent from Tauru (a part of Mewat before delimitation), in 2000, he won the seat on a Congress ticket while in 2014, he became MLA from Nuh as an Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) candidate.
Despite of the popularity and steady support enjoyed by the political representatives, there is little development in terms of education or livelihood in the region. Lack of education in the Mewati youth has hindered leadership in them to emerge as a force to reckon with in the future. Additionally, delimitation exercise has rendered prospects of Meo Muslims getting elected from other neighbouring districts difficult. Ironically, according to Subhash Bansal, a BJP supporter, and a businessman from Sohna, in Sohna, the elected representatives have been from out of Sohna. The political parties haven’t given opportunities to the natives from Sohna in electoral politics. These factors have marginalized new Meo Muslims from the political landscape of the broader region.
Extortion, Lynching and Impunity post 2014:
With the rise of BJP in 2014 at the centre, cow vigilantism has become a strong trend in the region. While the BJP hasn’t been able to make a dent in the electoral contest in Nuh, the narrative of Muslims from the region being cow smugglers and slaughtering cows has gained currency overall. While the term ‘cow vigilante’ is commonly used to refer to these anti-social elements, the term is misleading and accords some legitimacy to them. Cow protection is used merely as a pretext to extort money from those buying and selling and those who can pay are allowed to transport cattle by these extortion networks. The extortion network in the region has blatantly abducted Muslims under the pretext of cow slaughter. They are beaten or worse lynched to death. Extortion and threats have become common place. If the Muslims transporting cattle can pay they are allowed to pass but those who can’t pay are beaten up. While the façade the gau rakshaks have adopted is that of “protecting” the cow as holy to Hindus, however, there are increasing reports of how this is used a pretext to extort money from the Muslims wanting to buy or sell cattle. It has become a business for extortionists. So treacherous is transporting cattle in this region and the fear writ large that either the Muslims request their Hindu neighbours to transport the cattle for them or give up their livelihood completely in an economy heavily dependent on dairy industry. Like the two hundred cattle traders of Rojka Meo, a village in Mewat, Haryana, who are on the verge of giving up their traditional livelihood of sale and purchase of buffaloes.
The communal riots in Nuh that took place on 31st July 2023 is intricately linked with the systematic and blatant targeting of the Muslims in the region with no prospects of justice from the state. The residents have been aghast and resentful about how easily Muslim youth are kidnapped or abducted and murdered with the state doing little to ensure that the culprits are brought to justice. Worse, the state in some way is giving patronage to the extortion network who take it as a cue to blatantly to target the Muslims.
In 2015, the Haryana government implemented the Cow Promotion and Protection Act. To strengthen this law, a Cow Protection Taskforce was formed in 2021, which includes non-government persons. This Gau Raksha Dal tracks incidents of “cow smuggling” and “cow slaughter” in the area and informs the police. The so called gau rakshaks take the liberty to confiscate any cattle or even enter private property to take away cattle belonging to Muslims.
For instance, Haji Jamat Ali had kept his cattle for two and a half months in a farmer’s field in Bai Kheda village in Gurugram district, three to four kilometers away from his village, Khori Jamalpur. His children were present there to look after the cattle. Suddenly on June 30, some youths wearing saffron scarves around their necks came there shouting communal slogans and took away all the cattle tied in the field with them. They took away 56 cows belonging to Haji’s family whose primary source of livelihood is selling of milk (Jha, 2023). , Bittu Bajrangi, has been booked by police in this case for attacking and snatching milch cattle. This is not an isolated case. The question that resonates then in the region is “can’t a Muslim rear cow in Mewat?” In the face of such grave provocation, the Meo Muslims have demonstrated restraint and no communal incident has taken place in the past.
Cases of cow vigilantism:
Pehlu Khan (55) was transporting cattle from Jaipur in a weekly fair to Nuh, his village. Khan, dairy farmer, was waylaid by a mob of extortion network in Alwar on April 1, 2017 and beaten up mercilessly. Khan died in the hospital. The extortion network accused him and his companions including his sons of being cattle smugglers. The then Rajasthan home minister Gulab Chand Kataria belonging to the BJP ‘justified’ the attack and said both parties were to be blamed for Pehlu Khan’s death. The police after pressure from the family of Khan and civil society arrested the accused. However, all six accused were acquitted in Alwar court. Additionally, Khan’s sons were also framed under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995.
42-year-old Umar Mohammad from Ghatmika of Bharatpur district, Rajasthan was a dairy farmer. He was shot dead in November 2017 while transporting cows in a pickup with his two companions and his body was found on railway tracks near Govindgarh in Alwar. Four days after the assault, police said two ‘gau rakshaks’, Ramveer Gujjar and Bhagwan Singh, both in their thirties, arrested in connection with the case, had confessed to the assault as well as mutilating Umar’s body and dumping it on the railway track, about 15 km away, to make it look like an accident. The accused have been booked under IPC Sections 302, 307, 147 and 201.
But police have called both sides criminals. They claim that Umar and his two companions, Tahir and Javed, were habitual cattle smugglers and were using a stolen pickup to transport cows.
Akbar Khan alias Rakbar, a resident of Kolgaon village on Rajasthan-Haryana border, was lynched to death by extortion network in Alwar in Mewat when he was transporting cows for milking in July 2018. He was accused of cow smuggling. Khan’s post-mortem report revealed that he died of shock and injuries from a blunt weapon or object and he succumbed to multiple injuries following the brutal attack. Akbar had 12 injury marks on his body and he died of excessive internal bleeding. Khan’s friend and companion, Aslam, in a written statement to police, said around five men beat Akbar with sticks. According to the charge sheet, the three accused attacked Khan at Lalawandi village in Alwar district when he was transporting his two cows and their calves, eventually leading to his death (Tabeenah, 2018).
On 16th May, 2021, Asif Khan, a resident of Khera Khalilpur village in Nuh district of Haryana was murdered by some residents from his own village. Asif was kidnaped when he went to Sohna to buy medicines to treat his typhoid. His family allege that he was beaten mercilessly. He was stabbed in his eyes and his bones broken. They stabbed him in the chest with an iron rod and shot him in the arm and leg. While the police attribute this to “old enmity”, the family insists that he was targeted because he was a Muslim and the perpetrators didn’t want Muslim families to live in the Hindu majority village. The arrested in the case were associated with the BJP (Saxena, 2021).
Waris, a 22-year-old from Nuh, died on 28 January, 2023 when the extortion network attacked him while returning from Bhiwadi. Allegedly, Monu Manesar, infamous ‘cow vigilante’ belonging to Bajrang Dal and VHP had uploaded a video on his facebook which showed him and his associates attacking Waris. However, the police claim that Waris Khan died when his vehicle met with an accident. Khan’s family has alleged that he was either strangulated or his internal organs were injured since there are no marks of injury or wound on his body (The Scroll, 2023).
Nasir and Junaid who belonged to Ghatmeeka village in Rajasthan, were abducted from Bharatpur and killed by cow vigilantes after abducting them. Their charred bodies found near Loharu in Bhiwani on 16th February, 2023. They were burnt alive in the car. Before the dead bodies of Nasir and Junaid were discovered, a video was posted by Monu Manesar, boasting of having the support of the Haryana police while posing with rifles and arms.
The common thread that runs in all these cases is the impunity with which the extortion networks have attacked Muslims in the Mewat region. The Muslims are mercilessly and blatantly beaten up and killed. These cold-blooded murders are boasted about by cow vigilante like Monu Manesar as badge of honor. This fearlessness of the extortion network and the patronage given to them by the police and the ruling political party has created resentment in ordinary Muslims. This outrage at the lack of justice in the face of naked show of power and claiming innocent lives, leaving behind destitute and devastated families, has not been heeded by the state. Recently, a memorandum was given to the President of India titled ‘Demand for a ban on Special Cow Protection Task Force and justice for families of Junaid and Nasir’ by the civil society. The helplessness and outrage of the Muslim community in the face of these murders can be attributed to the reaction of the Muslims to the video posted by Monu Manesar and Bittu Bajrangi and the subsequent attack by a section of the Muslim youth.
Immediate Context of Violence:
A couple of days before the procession on 31st July, 2023 on a video Monu Manesar, a fugitive who was wanted in the murder of Junaid and Nasir, had urged his followers to be present in the Braj Mandal Jal Abhishek procession as he will be attending it. This inflamed tempers of a section of Muslims in the region. Similarly, on the morning of 31st July, in a video Bittu Bajrangi challenged the Muslim community to welcome him with flowers and gave out his location. He said, “Apke jijaji aa rahe hai. Phoolonse Swagat ke liye khade rahe na”. This was seen as a challenge by the Muslim youth, which provoked a section of the youth. The Muslim youth prepared to attack Monu Manesar who continuously targeted the Muslim community members and running an extortion racket in the name of cow vigilantism. The Braj Mandal Jal Abhishek yatra was organized by the VHP and Bajrang Dal since 2021. So far barring vandalizing of a mazaar near the Nalhar Shiva temple last year, there was no history of violence during the yatra. The procession or yatra started from civil lines in Gurugram on the morning of 31st July. The Yatra was to reach Ferozepur Jhirka via Nuh. After performing the Jal Abhishek at the Nalhar Shiv temple, the participants of the procession returned to Nuh city at around 2.30pm. Some participants were carrying arms- swords, lathis and guns when the procession entered Nuh. They raised anti- Muslim slogan – “Mulle Kate Jayenge, Ram Ram chillayenge” rented the air.
Thus, on 31st July, around 2.00 pm near the Mewli road, when a white car in the procession was passing, a section of the Muslim youth suspected that the car was carrying Monu Manesar. According to activists in Nuh, the car reversed at high-speed knocking down a Muslim boy. That gave rise to the suspicion that the car had Monu Manesar. The Muslim youth chased the car and stopped it. They pulled out the man in the car who turned out to be Bittu Bajrangi and beat him up. But he escaped. This triggered communal riots in Nuh.
In response to the attack by the Muslim youth on the car, at around 2.30pm, stones were pelted on Hotel Rizq by Bajrang Dal members as seen in one of the videos. The members of the procession who were on the road started vandalizing and torched vehicles. Several vehicles were torched. In the pursuant violence, at some places, Muslim youth clashed with the members of the procession. Gun shots were heard near the Shiv temple in Nalhar. In the violence, six lives were lost- two of the home guards and four of civilians including the death of deputy Imam from a mosque in Gurugram.
Reaction of violence in Sohna and Gurugram:
After the violence in Nuh, the members in the procession went to Sohna and targeted Muslim owned properties in Nut colony. Three mosques including the Shahi Juma Masjid in Sohna were attacked. The Shahi Juma Masjid was attacked on 1st August at 1.30pm. The violence spread to Gurugram too, where the mob attacked the Anjuman Jama Masjid in Sector 57, set it on fire and killed the deputy imam on the night of 31st July, 2023. VHP threatened the Muslim migrant workers in sector 70 on 1st August. Subsequently, over 120 Muslim families left for West Bengal and Bihar. In response to the violence, the Haryana administration has demolished over 750 properties in Nuh alone – all owned by Muslims. The team visited some sites of demolitions and interacted with the affected persons.
Muslims as criminals and Extortionists nationalists? Selective response of the state:
The police in the past couple of years have cracked down on the cyber-crimes in the region. The Muslim youth pushed towards crime due to various factors seen above has been arrested. While there is no debate that criminals committing crime must be brought to justice, the question which cant be ignored then is that if the police are acting against criminals based on their religion? If the Muslims committing cyber-crimes are should be punished, then why shouldn’t the Hindu right wing group activists and extortionists using the pretext of cow protection not be punished? Isn’t extortion and beating up and murdering innocent citizens not a crime? The selective action of the state and the police have raised questions about equality before law and justice. The police have been aware about the cases of lynching and extortion. The families of those murdered have been implicated in cases and justice denied to the families and the deceased in the cruelest way. There is little hope of justice. In this atmosphere of hopelessness and resentment, when Bittu Bajrangi and Monu Manesar challenged the Muslims, there was a potential of tension and violence. The implications were written large and clear. The police still didn’t do much to pre-empt violence. They ignored the instigations by the Bajrangi and Manesar who are accused of violence in different cases. The response of the state is a big contributing factor to the violence that took place on 31st July, 2023.
“We were living here for 30 years. The administration came and razed down our house in minutes. They gave us a notice only one hour prior to the demolition”, said Qudsiya, aged 52. Qudsiya’s house was one amongst the 12 to 14 houses demolished in Nalhar village by the Haryana state administration after the communal riots in Nuh, Haryana that took place on 31st July. These houses that were demolished were on the foot of the impressive Aravalli Mountain range in Nalhar where this pastoral community resides. Their primary source of income is dairy. In Nuh, the administration demolished more than 750 properties which included shops, houses, and stalls of small business, pushing the Muslim community in the famous Mewat area towards further marginalization. The Centre for Study of Society and Secularism undertook a fact-finding mission to unravel the facts behind the communal violence take broke out on 31st July in Nuh during the Braj Mandal Jal Abhishek Yatra organized by the VHP. The violence that broke out in Nuh spread to other parts of Haryana- Sohna, Palwal and Gurugram. The fact-finding team consisting of Vikash Narain Rai, former Director of National Police Academy, Hyderabad and DGP (Law and Order), Haryana, Dr. Sandhya Mhatre, social activist, and member of CSSS and Neha Dabhade, Executive Director of CSSS visited the affected areas in Nuh, Sohna and Gurugram from 24th to 28th August, 2023.
Like Qudsiya, the fact-finding committee spoke to some other residents of the village- picturesque village nestled at the foot of imposing Aravalli mountains, lush green fields and trees, cows and goats grazing in the green. The only eye sore in this vision- heaps of bricks and stones- remnants of the demolitions dotting the landscape. In the place of the houses, now stands small make do shelters with tarpaulin covers overhead. What was left of their belongings, was now stacked inside these shelters with no walls or covering from any side. The village now bereft of men due to fear of arrests by police, had women cooking in the open in the dusk, children playing near the heaps of stones and bricks of the demolished homes. There were no sanitation facilities compelling the women to go to the forest for nature’s calls.
This site of demolitions is approximately 4 kms away from the Shiv Temple of Nalhar where the Jal Abhishek took place. This land where their houses once stood is owned by the Forest Department. The residents resided on this land from 30 odd years in concrete houses. Never once in all these years were they served a notice to vacate this land. On 4th August, 2023, the administration came and demolished their houses with bulldozers. The apparent reason cited was that of illegal encroachment of forest land. However, the families were not served adequate notices before the demolitions or given time to respond to them or evacuate to another place. According to Khatoon aged 60 years, another resident of the village, the demolition was systematically aimed towards inflicting maximum damage on the community. She narrated, “first the household items including washing machines, beds, sofas, TVs, tins of grains and fridges were destroyed and then they razed my house down”. The residents told us that though the reason cited by the administration was illegal encroachment, the residents believe that the demolitions which come on the heel of the communal riots, is to target the Muslim community and blame them for the violence. Qudsiya said, “My granddaughter was going to get married a couple of days after the demolition. We had stored food grains for the wedding. The officers who came for demolition kept alleging and taunting me that I had stored the grains to give food and shelter to the rioters! I kept explaining to them but they wouldn’t listen”. Muslims in the village and Nuh where they account for almost 80% of the population seem to believe that the administration has used the riot as a pretext to raze down properties of Muslims, continuing the pattern of meeting out “collective punishment” to the community as observed in other cases of communal violence.
This year on 31st July, the Braj Mandal Jal Abhishek Yatra organized by VHP reached the Nalhar temple around 11am. The Yatra was flagged off in the morning from Civil Lines in Gurugram. The Yatra was to reach Ferozepur Jhirka via Nuh. After performing the Jal Abhishek, the participants of the procession returned to Nuh city. They were carrying swords and sticks. The slogans of “Jai Shree Ram” and “Mulle Kate Jayenge, Ram Ram chillayenge” were shouted. Little after 2pm, near Mewli road, the processionists attacked were attacked by Muslim youth since they suspected that one of the cars in the procession was carrying Monu Manesar. This car reversed in high speed and knocked down a Muslim youth. The Muslim youth chased this car and stopped it. The car was carrying Bittu Bajrangi instead who was beaten up with the Muslim youth. But he was saved and managed to escape. After this, at around 2.30pm, stones were pelted on Hotel Rizq by Bajrang Dal members as seen in one of the videos. The members of the procession who were on the road started vandalizing and torched vehicles of the road. Several vehicles were torched but the team couldn’t ascertain the exact number. In the pursuant violence, at some places, Muslim youth clashed with the members of the procession. In the violence, six lives were lost- two of the home guards and four of civilians.
After the violence in Nuh, the members in the procession went to Sohna and targeted Muslim owned properties in Nut colony. Three mosques including the Shahi Juma Masjid in Sohna were attacked. The Shahi Juma Masjid was attacked on 1st August at 1.30pm. The violence spiraled to Gurugram too where the mob attacked the Anjuman Jama Masjid in Sector 57 and set it on fire and killed the deputy imam on the night of 31st July, 2023. VHP threatened the Muslim migrant workers in sector 70 on 1st August. Subsequently, over 128 families left for West Bengal and Bihar. In response to the violence, the Haryana administration has demolished over 750 properties in Nuh alone- all owned by Muslims. The team visited some sites of demolitions and interacted with the affected persons.
Arbitrarily nature of the Demolitions:
In Nalhar stands the impressive Shaheed Hassan Mewati Medical College. Just in front of the College, the site that greets visitors was that of extensive patch of rubbles- from demolished properties. 45 pakka (concrete) shops were demolished along with six to seven temporary structures. It is worth noting that this site is around 4 to 5kms from the Nalhar temple, the epicentre of the violence and riots did not take place here. Mohammad Arif, aged 35, along with his brothers owned 22 shops which were razed down by the administration on 5th August from 8.30am onwards. Some of these shops were rented out by Hindus for running labs and x ray clinics. Arjun Shukla from UP was running a book depot. Raju Tea Stall was run by Raju Chopra. Global X Ray was run for the last two years by Mohit who is a radiologist. DL Ultrasound was run by Dr. Devkanth from Faridabad. One restaurant was run by Dev Raghav. Other shops were that of fast food, grocery opticians and labs run by Muslims.
Mohammad Arif’s father bought the land on which the shops were built in 1995. The documents shown proved that clearly. 12 years back in 2012 the family built 22 shops on the land after the medical college was built. The family received about 80 to 85 thousand rupees per month as rent. The shops were built incrementally- it took INR 12 lakhs to erect five shops. Later it took about three lakhs to build each shop. Each shop was approximately 9 by 20 feet. These shops were razed down in a day. Mohammad Arif was not given any prior notice from the administration before demolition. Later he was shown a back dated notice. Mohit who was running Global X Ray corroborates that no notice was served prior to the demolition. During the demolition Mohit’s Xray equipment and AC collectively worth 10 lakhs were damaged along with other damages. No reason was given to Mohit for the demolition and no notice was served either.
Mohammad Sharif too owned the land which was next to Mohammad Arif’s. He had bought the land in 2011 and constructed nine shops on the land. The shops had businesses of restaurants, labs, biryani shop, hair salon, pizza café and coaching centre. Most of the shops were rented out to different people- some of them were Hindus. Sharif received INR fifty-six thousand in rent each month. In 2011, he had spent three lakhs to construct one shop. He too didn’t get any notice before the demolition. Nawab Shaikh owned 15 concrete shops and containers in front of the Shaheed Hassan Mewati Medical college. He also has adequate proof to establish the ownership of the land where the shops stood. It was his ancestral property. It was demolished without notice. He rued that the administration targeted the shops because they belonged to Muslims. He said, “Our shops were targeted because we are Muslims. There is nothing more to the demolitions”.
A recurring theme has emerged from various narratives surrounding the recent demolition drive in the region – a theme that highlights a stark discrepancy between the official claims of combating illegal encroachment and the reality of legitimate structures being mercilessly razed to the ground. Among the demolished properties were several concrete structures that not only possessed adequate proof of legal ownership but were also diligently paying property taxes to the administration. Two prominent cases that exemplify this issue are the Sahara Hotel and the Kajaria Tiles showroom, whose owners vehemently asserted their lawful ownership rights. What becomes evident from this distressing narrative is that, regardless of whether these structures stood on forest land or legal property, the principles of due process and fair hearings should have been meticulously followed. The demolitions took place in direct contravention of orders issued by the High Court, leading to a blatant disregard for established legal procedures, terming it as “ethnic cleansing”.
The Haryana High Court, recognizing the gravity of the situation, took suo moto action to bring a halt to these arbitrary demolitions. The court issued a stay order, effectively preventing further destruction. It is noteworthy that the High Court went a step further and characterized the state administration’s actions as a case of ‘ethnic cleansing,’ highlighting the severity of the injustice committed. The narratives surrounding the recent demolition drive underscore a troubling trend of properties with legal ownership being targeted under the guise of combating illegal encroachments. The actions of the state administration, which bypassed due process and violated High Court orders, have brought into question the principles of justice and fairness.
Men less Villages:
The village of Nalhar in Nuh, Haryana, has been gripped by a harrowing situation that has left its Muslim community living in fear and uncertainty. Arbitrary demolitions of homes, coupled with the threat of arrests, have driven Muslim men to flee their own villages. This crackdown by the police, targeting the Muslim community, has left the residents of Nalhar grappling with the profound consequences of this one-sided action. Residents of Nalhar firmly believe that the arrests made in the wake of communal riots disproportionately target the Muslim community, with almost all those apprehended belonging to this group. To make matters worse, the majority of those arrested are seen as innocent by the local community. Despite having solid alibis, Muslim men live under constant fear of being detained. The lack of communication or reasoning with the police has forced them to abandon their homes and loved ones.
In Nalhar, the pervasive fear of arbitrary arrests has forced Muslim men to flee their villages, leaving behind a void that is felt keenly by their families. For many, the hills surrounding the village have become their refuge, where they sleep at night despite the dangers posed by snakes and reptiles. The terror of arrest, it seems, outweighs the very real threats from the wild life. In this grim scenario, the burden of maintaining households and taking care of children has fallen squarely on the shoulders of the women in Nalhar. While they still manage to tend to the animals, they are unable to venture out to sell milk or work in the fields due to the constant fear of arrest that haunts the men in their families. This situation has left them feeling paralyzed and trapped, struggling to uphold the daily routines that once provided stability.
Arbitrary demolitions and arrests have emerged as a two-headed monster that has disrupted the lives of the Muslim community in Nalhar. Their homes reduced to rubble and their men in hiding, the residents are caught in a web of uncertainty and despair. The once-thriving village now bears the scars of a community living in fear, abandoned by its male members who are forced to seek refuge in the hills.
Impoverishment of an already marginalized community?
What can be surmised from these stories? What are the ramifications of the bulldozer justice meted out by the government which has taken mostly one-sided action against a particular community? Human lives- whether Hindus or Muslims has been adversely affected and there is an atmosphere of fear looming large in Nuh and other affected areas. The Meos and Mewat already infamous for low literacy rates and poor development indicators has been dealt a deadly blow by the violence and the subsequent arbitrary demolitions by the Haryana administration. The losses inflicted by the demolitions pushes an impoverished community further to the brink of destitution. Like Qudsiya from Nalhar quipped, “I don’t know if and when will we be able to build our house again. It will all depend on whether the arrests will stop and we can focus on our normal lives”. Mohammad Arif echoed these sentiments, “we had built the shops bit by bit so it was not very difficult. Now all we had was destroyed in one day in front of my eyes. I don’t know if we can rebuild these shops again”.
The major findings that emerged from the fact finding into the communal riots from Nuh are the following:
1. The communal riot in Nuh was a result of an ecosystem that was built up on hatred and impunity
The communal riot that took place in Nuh on 31st July has a context and broke out in an ecosystem where different factors have determined how this communal riot has unfolded. These factors giving rise to communal riots cannot be detached from the communal riot itself and its understanding. The extortion racket under the pretext of cow vigilantism, the under-development of the region of Nuh and the leadership of Nuh have shaped the ecosystem which gave rise to the communal riots. The hate speeches, the impunity given to the extortionists and the subsequent emboldening of them have demoralized the Muslim community which is forced into submission.
2. Was the communal riot planned?
The participants of the Jal Abhishek Yatra were seen carrying swords and other arms. There was a certain preparedness for violence from the participants of the yatra. A section of the Muslim youth incensed with the provocative speeches of right-wing leaders- Monu Manesar and Bittu Bajrangi, did not want these leaders to participate in the yatra given their history of extortion and murders against Muslims in the region. A section of the Muslim youth, wanted to apprehend a car in the yatra thinking it was carrying Monu Manesar. The Muslim youth chased the car and attacked it. The Muslim youth didn’t want to attack the Yatra. The role of a section of Muslim youth in the violence can’t be denied. It had become a matter of their pride and honor in not allowing Monu Manesar to enter Nuh for the yatra. The participants from the yatra were also armed and their demeanor was aggressive and their slogans were provocative.
The Hindu residents staying near the Nalhar Shiv Temple told the fact-finding team that there was gun firing near the temple and their houses on the afternoon of 31st July, 2023. However, they couldn’t see who fired the bullets. Several vehicles were torched on the way to the temple. The Muslim residents of Nalhar have maintained that they often visit the temple and the relationships between the temple management, Hindu residents and Muslim residents in the village have been cordial. In fact, the Hindu residents that the fact-finding team spoke to were introduced by Arif who is owner of the shops that were demolished near the Shaheed Hassan Mewati Medical College. They share very warm relations. Arif attributed these strong ties to treatment of equality and that the Muslim don’t practice untouchability with the Hindu Dalit residents of Nalhar. The Muslim residents of Nalhar including those whose properties were demolished told the team that Muslims welcomed the yatra and had no problem with the yatra. Some residents near the mosque opposite the medical college even narrated how the participants from the yatra wee given water and refreshments by Muslim residents and the participants rested in their house on the way to the Shiv temple.
It is important to bear in mind that the Braj Mandal Jal Abhishek Yatra is not a traditional yatra which has a long history. The yatra was started by VHP in Nuh since 2021. The Muslims in Nuh have never taken objection to the yatra or opposed it. This is despite the vandalization of a mazaar next to the Shiv Temple in Nalhar that happened during the yatra last year in 2022. The Mazaar was repaired by the committee of the Shiv temple in Nalhar through mutual understanding. Though thousands of people participate in the yatra out of faith, the origins of the yatra can be traced back to the political agenda of mobilizing Hindus for yatra as a show of supremacy of Hindus. The yatra this year was armed and took place in a charged atmosphere of hatred and acrimony. Participants were seen openly carrying arms and raising anti-Muslim slogans. This indicates the intention to foment trouble and instigate violence on the part of the organizers and participants of the yatra.
3. Role of the State:
The response of the police has been inadequate at multiple levels to state it mildly. The region of Nuh is simmering with discontent and questions on part of the Muslim community about the inadequate action taken against extortionists who are targeting Muslims brazenly under the pretext of cow vigilantism. There have been a series of mob lynching, abductions, and murders where the role of the extortionists including Manesar and Bajrangi is well known and public knowledge. When they openly and irresponsibly gave hate speeches before the yatra, the angry Muslim community through the members of the peace committee had expressed concern about such instigation and possibility of violence. On 29th July, when Monu Manesar released a video giving inflammatory speech, the members of the peace committee raised this issue with the higher authorities in the police. The police assured the Muslim leaders that these extortionists will not be allowed to be part of the yatra. Yet the hate speeches were flying thick and fast and the police didn’t act in time to prevent violence. The signs of the impending violence were writ large and yet the police turned a blind eye to the same. The police on 28th August demonstrated that if it has the will, it can stop communal riot from taking place even in a communally charged environment. This will appeared lacking on 31st July.
The residents of Nuh, both Muslims and Hindus as well as the video footage shows that there were no police or few police personnel available at the site of violence. The police arrived at the scene of the violence only at 6pm in the evening. For over 3 hours, the rioters were allowed to wreck violence while the police were absent from the scene. The police didn’t deploy the necessary force which should have been on the ground in anticipation of the yatra which saw the participation of thousands of people from even the neighbouring district. The police couldn’t stop the vandalization of vehicles or from the mob from spreading violence to the neighbouring districts.
In the cases related to this riot, 61 FIRs are filed and 285 arrested. The police have arrested mostly the Muslims, the arrests primarily took place between 1st to 3rd August. There were narratives of families who explained that men from their family, some who were plying rickshaws or came back from work or some who were out to buy milk or grocery were arbitrarily arrested by the police without explanation or even informing the families about where the arrested was kept. The families- only women and old infirmed have remained homes in most of the houses are left to run pillar to post to find out which police station has detained their loved ones- their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons and under which fabricated charges. They are seeking legal aid but all this comes at a huge cost. With the bread winner of the families behind bars, the families are driven to destitution when they already had a hand to mouth existence. Entire villages and neighborhoods are without men. This has left families, often composed of women and the elderly, in a state of distress, having to navigate a complex and expensive legal process. With the primary breadwinners behind bars, these families are now struggling to make ends meet, aggravating their already precarious financial situations.
The state administration also has promoted the narrative that the yatra was attacked by the Muslim community in Nuh supported by Congress leaders. They blame the opposition and the Muslim community for the violence. Thus, the administration chose this opportunity to demolish the properties of the Muslims and driving them homeless and without livelihood. Their lives have been shattered and they led a precarious existence. The extortionists are not called out for their role in this violence. After much delay Monu Manesar was arrested. However, the impunity and legitimacy that the state has given the extortionists by maintaining silence has emboldened them and their communities which hail them as heroes of sorts.
It is important how the state viewed the violence. There are two divergent narratives that have emerged from the two coalition partners in the state government. While the BJP led by CM Khattar has termed the violence ‘pre-planned’ and places the blame on Muslims for the communal riots, deputy CM, Dushyant Chautala from Jannayak Janta Party in a bid to not alienate the Muslims has a more balanced view where he blamed the organizers- the VHP. “This is an unfortunate incident. A Yatra was being organized during which some people conspired an attack Yatris and the police. Violent incidents were reported at several places. There seems to be a big conspiracy behind this“, said CM Manohar Lal Khattar. Similarly, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said ‘Bullets were fired from hills, stones were collected on roofs, and fronts were set up. It was planned by someone and we are investigating’ (The Hindu, 2023).
On the other hand, Dushyant Chautala has blamed the organizers of the yatra for the violence. He said,” the yatra organisers did not give complete information about the yatra to the district administration. The incident took place due to this…Strict action will be taken against those found responsible for the incident“.
The most unfortunate loss that occurred during the communal riot is the loss of six lives. Two dead were home guards, two were participants from the procession- Pradeep Sharma- member of Bajrang Dal and one was the deputy imam from Anjuman mosque in Gurugram. Pradeep Sharma’s vehicle collided with the divider in Sohna. Though he himself walked to the hospital post the accident, he succumbed to his injuries eventually. The two Home Guard personnel have been identified as Neeraj and Gursewak, resulting from accident where two police vans collided with each other. The third victim has been identified as Bhadas village resident Shakti Singh Saini- drinking state. One victim, Abhishek of these six was said to be from Panipat was present in the process.
During the communal riots, several vehicles were torched by the mob in Nuh- some near the railway station and some on the road to the Nalhar Shiv Temple. The team couldn’t ascertain the exact number of vehicles or who owned them. In Nuh, the mob vandalized a Hero Showroom (motorcycle showroom) and warehouse owned by Bansal family. According to some residents the team met, over 100 motorcycles were robbed and taken away by the mob. The team was also told that some motorcycles were found by the police in the neighbouring districts. The team was told by residents in Sohna that the owner of the Showroom instigated the mob in Nuh on their return to indulge in violence and attack properties belonging to Muslims in Sohna. In the Nut Colony in Sohna the stalls and shops belonging to Muslims were vandalized and some burnt down. One restaurant which was run by a tenant and owned by Hakam Master was torched by the mob while there were people in the restaurant. Fortunately, all the people in the restaurant could escape before the LPG cylinder blasted in the restaurant.
The Badi Shahi Masjid in ward 18 of Sohna was attacked on 1st August, 2023 at 1.30pm despite having police personnel guarding the mosque from the evening of 31st July, 2023. The Hindu and Sikh neighbours of the Maulana Mohammad Kalim who is Imam of the mosque informed the Imam that there might be an attack on the mosque and subsequently, the imam asked the police for protection. The police personnel were stationed outside of the Mosque from 31st July evening. In the presence of the police personnel a mob attacked the mosque on 1st August. they were shouting anti- Muslim slogans and carrying swords, hammer, rods and knives. The attack continued for 15 minutes before the police asked for enforcements. When the police enforcements arrived, they fired in the air and dispersed the mob. They didn’t apprehend any miscreant or catch them. The neighbours came to check on the Imam and his family and advised them to move out of the mosque for a few days for their safety. The Sikh and Hindu neighbours evacuated the children and the family members of the imam to the safety of their relative’s house.
After the Imam filed a FIR, four accused were arrested. Though more accused were named in the FIR, the police in charge informed the Imam that they cant arrest more accused since the atmosphere in the city was charged up and tense. The Imam has little hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.
While the perception that Hindus in Sohna sustained heavy damage was widely prevalent, the team despite making several enquiries and requests did not find properties belonging to Hindus to be attacked or damaged in Sohna.
The violence after Sohna spread to Gurugram where the mob attacked the Anjuman Mosque in sector 57 of Gurugram in the late night of 31st July. The deputy Imam of the mosque was brutally murdered by the mob. Gurugram also has sizeable influx of migrant workers from West Bengal and Bihar. Sizeable number is that of Bengali speaking Muslims. On 1st August in the morning around 11.30 am, a mob came to their basti in sector 70 of Gurugram and threatened the migrants to leave Gurugram. The mob beat up a 16 years old young boy in the basti and another 70 years old man. They sustained injuries. The mob raised anti-Muslim slogans and said they won’t allow any Muslims from outside live and work in Gurugram. According to the residents of the Basti, out of 128 families, merely 7 to 8 families stayed back and the rest went back to their homes in West Bengal and Bihar. The fear amongst remaining families were palpable. They were waiting for the procession that was going to be organized on 28th August, 2023 to pass peacefully so that they could return to their homes and work in Gurugram. The VHP organized another Braj Mandal Jal Abhishek Yatra in Nuh to complete the Yatra that could not be completely on 31st July. There were posters put up by VHP in common spaces in the city demanding that the Muslims leave Gurugram before 28th August or face consequences.
The narrative that the team heard prior to visiting the affected areas was that the Hindu mob was enraged at the heavy damage that the Hindus suffered in Nuh and thus the Hindu mob inflicted damage on the Muslim properties in Sohna, Palwal and Gurugram. However, the fact-finding team did not come across any damages suffered by the Hindus on their properties. Similarly, while it was widely believed that majority of the properties damaged were of Hindus, the team found that mostly, the properties of the Muslims were damaged.
The demolitions that the administration undertook after the communal riots appeared to be targeted towards the Muslim community since almost all the properties demolished- over 1200 were owned by the Muslims. The Muslims clearly sustained heavy damages. The total structures demolished were 443 of which 162 were permanent and 281 were temporary. Similarly, the number of persons affected from the demolition drive were 354, of which 71 were Hindus and 283 were Muslims,” claimed the Nuh Deputy Commissioner, Dhirendra Khadgata, has said in a 400-page affidavit (Sandhu, 2023). However, the fact-finding team despite making efforts to trace to the properties owned by Hindus were unable to find any properties belonging to Hindus which were demolished. It is important to note that, on August 7, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had raised questions on the demolition drive, asking whether properties of a “particular community” were targeted “under the guise of a law and order problem”, and an “exercise of ethnic cleansing” was being conducted. It had asked the state government to file an affidavit on how many buildings had been demolished, and if any notice was issued before demolition.
5. Impact of the communal riots:
The communal riots in Nuh that took place on 31st July, 2023 were first communal riots in decades in the region. The communal riots exposed the fissures in the social landscape which is now dominated with the hegemony of extortionists and a state which is emboldening them to further its agenda of treating Muslims as second-class citizens and making them vulnerable to physical attacks and economically impoverished. While the Muslim community feels cornered and targeted due to these constant attacks by extortionists and lack of action by the state to bring them to action, the extortionists are being celebrated by a section of their communities as heroes. They are demanding that the extortionists are not arrested. With significant delay Monu Manesar was arrested. There was a Mahapanchayat that decided to have another Jal Abhishek Yatra to complete the yatra that could not be completed on 31st July, 2023. There is drawing of lines on communal basis which is polarizing the communities. The arrests too have created an atmosphere of fear and distrust, the neighbors can’t trust their own fellow neighbors and they feel that their names can be given to the police and they can be falsely implicated.
The reach out of the VHP and Bajrang Dal is also evident in the communities where the Dalit community in Nalhar and especially women have come out vociferously against the Muslims and blaming them for the violence. There are unsubstantiated allegations of eve teasing against the Muslims which is oft repeated rhetoric promoted by the Hindu right-wing organizations. At the same time, there is a counterweight to this politics and mobilization in the form of the farmers’ and khap panchayats collectives which have taken a positive stand that hatred and targeting of Muslims will not be supported by these collectives. Such a Mahapanchayat for brotherhood and communal harmony was organized in Alwar in August where prominent farmers leaders including Rakesh Tikait were present and came out in support of communal harmony in Mewat. The collectives have emphasized on the common identity of farmers and the history of fraternity between Hindus and Muslims in the region. The Mahapanchayat held in Alwar of the farmers and khaps and the message of unity and fraternity it gave out created a positive environment where even the police and state had to take cognizance and compelled to prevent repeat of violence on 28th August.
- Impartial probe:
The state action seems one sided where members of Muslim community are arrested. There are strong claims that innocent have been arrested. There has to be impartial probe into the violence that took place on 31st July by SIT or Judicial commission. The use of swords and guns also indicate pre-planning as it is not possible to gather such arms spontaneously. Thus, this aspect of the violence should also be probed into.
- Legal action into the violence perpetuated by the extortionists under the pretext of cow vigilantism:
The lynching and murders of the Muslim youth in Mewat have gone unpunished. Not only have the perpetrators not brought to justice but the family members of the victims been slapped with cases like in the case of Pehlu Khan. In some ways this has led to disillusionment in the criminal justice system to get any justice. The extortionist networks are still scotfree in the public spaces, emboldened by lack of action and thus carrying out attacks unabatedly against the Muslims. Strictest and impartial action must be taken against the perpetrators especially those who have been alleged of multiple attacks.
- Disbanding of the Gau Rakshak Dal:
The Gau Rakshak Dals are supported by the police and state which gives legitimacy to extortionists under the pretext of cow vigilante which pursues witch- hunt of the Muslims. These networks are working with impunity against innocent citizens. These networks must be disbanded and the first step towards it would be withdrawal of police support and recognition to the same.
It is alleged by multiple owners of the properties that were demolished that due process was not followed in demolishing their properties. The fact-finding team found out that the houses that were demolished in Nalhar near the foot of the mountains were built and existed for over 30 years. They had electricity and water bills- all the documents needed. Though the land belonged to the Forest Department, the residents were living there for over 3 decades. They were not served notices with adequate time to reply or take recourse to law. The properties near the Medical College and others in Nalhar and Nuh were also arbitrarily demolished though the owners had proof of ownership. Due course was not followed in either case resulting in gross injustice. The timing of the demolitions seen in the light of the statements of the state ministers indicate that the demolitions were carried out to target the Muslim community. These demolitions have caused emotional as well as financial hardships to the owners and thus they should be compensated fully and adequately.
- Rehabilitation for women:
Demolition of houses have forced women of the household to live in appalling conditions with no sanitation facilities and security. The state should take adequate care to provide these facilities to the women and rehabilitate them at the soonest.