Nuh Violence: Deserted Villages, Late Night Raids, Mass Arrests
Police personnel outside Anjuman Mosque which was set ablaze in the Sector 57 area, in Gurugram district, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023. Image Courtesy: PTI
New Delhi: The aftermath of violent communal clashes in Haryana’s Nuh district weaves a compelling narrative, spanning the trajectory of events before, during and after the unrest, and unveils a harrowing tale of alleged administrative “failure, brutality and injustice”.
Normalcy has apparently returned to the Mewat region. However, villages are deserted, deprived of any sign of the presence of men folk.
The atmosphere of fear is such that Muslim men are hiding in the hills of Aravali or have left the district to evade “random” arrests and avoid “implication” in false cases. The prevailing atmosphere is one of pervasive fear, leaving people afraid of venturing out.
Advocate Haroon Khan, who is defending several accused, mentioned the troubling case of three brothers of a practising advocate who had been picked up by the police while walking on the road. Though they were released later, he questioned the fairness of such detentions and arrests — suggesting that “if even individuals with connections were being targeted, the treatment of the poor must be so much worse.”
He said charges of murder and attempted murder, sections 302 and 307 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), respectively, are being slapped on individuals, and a staggering 248 people have been arrested.
Advocate Khan highlighted that minors were picked up and charged as adults.
“The police tried its best to deprive them of any opportunity to present their case or proof of age,” he alleged.
Meoli is one such village in Nuh where residents complain of a “brutal” police crackdown. The village is eight kilometres from Nuh town, where the violence broke out on July 31 during the ‘Braj Mandal Yatra’ organised by the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). Provocative speeches and social media posts ahead of the procession are said to have triggered the violence.
Villagers claimed a large posse of policemen descended in Meoli at around 5 am on August 1 and allegedly picked up “random” men without any warrants. The kins of the arrested men have no idea of the charges against the men picked up from their homes.
They said they were not even going to meet them at the police station as elders of the village suggested that it was better to wait, or else they might also be detained.
Nine men belonging to Chaudhary Shafat’s family were allegedly picked up by the police early on August 1 morning.
“Those who are culprits must be arrested, but people from this village did not even know about the procession in Nuh. They had no relation with it,” he said.
The 77-year-old landlord was holding a stack of papers, each bearing the identification of his family members. Among those detained were approximately 12 to 15 individuals, including Sohrab, who has a disability and has since been released.
Four to five of those taken into custody were minors under 18. The arrested individuals, he alleged, are not being allowed to see their families.
“Due to fear, the families of victims are not reporting their grievances,” he added.
Maniram is one of the few Hindus in Muslim-concentrated Meoli village who works as a tailor. He said he was also not aware of the VHP/Bajrang Dal procession being taken out.
“I found out about it the next day. There is brotherhood and communal harmony in our village,” he said.
Tayyab Hussain, whose sons — Salim and Azad — sell milk for a living, said the two brothers had gone to sell milk on the day of the violence and returned after work. Now both arrested, the helpless father said that the police did not even let Salim wear clothes before they (cops) took him away.
Like all the other families, Hussain was also allegedly not informed by the police why his sons were arrested.
One of the arrested men is Aahit — a law student at Lords University at Alwar in Rajasthan. He had gone to write his exam, claimed his grandfather, Shafat, showing his date sheet and two to and fro bus tickets (Nuh to Alwar on July 31 at 8:21 am and Alwar to Nuh on the same day at 11:46 pm).
Basheer Ahmad, 51, broke down, talking about his son — Mohammad Talha — who is now in police custody.
“He works as an electrician. On July 31 (the day of violence), he went to Mission Hospital for some repair work. He was arrested at around 3 pm while returning,” said Basheer Ahmad.
‘Sohail’ (name changed) is a minor who was allegedly picked up after he was returning from work on July 31.
“He supplied cold drinks to shops and was returning home after 2:30 pm when he was detained and later arrested by the police,” claimed his uncle Nukmuddin.
Shehzad and Shahrukh Khan, two of the men arrested on August 1 morning, worked as security guards at Shaheed Hasan Khan Mewati Government Medical College, Nalhar (Nuh).
Shehzad’s sister-in-law and Shahrukh Khan’s cousin Arfina claimed that the duo were at work on the day of violence.
“Shahrukh Khan was on night duty, and Shehzad went to work at 7 am the next day and returned at 5 pm on the day of violence. They had no business with the violence,” she said.
Shahrukh Khan’s father, Jaan Mohammad, has written a letter to the director of the medical college, informing him that his son was picked up by the police after being named in the violence by an unknown even though he was on duty the day the violence broke out.
Jaan Mohammad shared the harrowing experience of his son Shahrukh Khan, a 30-year-old security guard who was taken into custody on August 1. He has been slapped with various sections of the IPC, as well as provisions of the Arms Act.
Showing his son’s security guard’s badge, the grief-stricken father vehemently asserted Shahrukh Khan played “no part” in the turmoil that unfolded.
Tragically, Jaan Mohammad’s brother’s son, Shahzad, has also been arrested. His father, Mohammad Ahmad, recounted the wrongful apprehension of his 27-year-old son, who, too, worked as a security guard.
Junaid, aged 25 years, son of Usman, went to his brother-in-law’s house to attend a funeral on July 31 evening. When he returned, he was allegedly picked up the next morning by the Nuh police for allegedly taking part in the violence.
Similar detainment and arrests have also occurred near Meoli, in villages like Khedi and Murad Bas, which are similarly desolate.
WOMEN RECOUNT HORROR
Farida’s husband, Azad, and brother-in-law, Salim, were taken away by the police while they were sleeping.
“The police barged into my home at around 5 am (on August 1). They did not even let my husband put on his clothes,” she said, adding that their livelihood depends on selling milk.
“We are poor people. With the arrests, our small business has come to a standstill. We have lost 2.5 quintals of milk till now,” she said.
Rizwana’s account paints a grim picture of the police’s actions, with young boys picked up on “fake” accusations.
“Everyone in our family is in service; some work in the health department, while others are in the electricity department. We lead peaceful lives and have no history of indulging in criminal activities. The police accused my brothers of bike theft based on a fake video, but we had no such involvement. They barged into our home early in the morning, a day after the riots, and took away whoever they found sleeping in the house,” she alleged and broke down.
All of her brothers — she said — were at home during the riots, but the police “falsely” accused them of taking part in the violence and took them away.
They also alleged the police force hurled abuses, threatened with weapons and used physical force against the women and elderly during the raid.
Shabnam, whose husband Anis, 35, was arrested early morning, alleged that the police pushed her aside while arresting her husband, hurling abuses.
She claimed that Anis was at home all day on the day of the violence.
Arfina, Shahzad’s sister-in-law, alleged the cops threatened them and even threw a tasla (an iron plate) at them, which hit her mother-in-law.
“They intimidated us by saying get away from here, or we’ll shoot. They threw an iron plate at us, which hit my mother-in-law). It happened when we sought to know why they were arresting our men,” she alleged.
An older woman shared the harrowing experience of the police crackdown on Mewli village. She said she addressed the police as “brothers” and pleaded, “Where are you taking my son? He has done nothing wrong. He has four children. What will they eat, and how will they earn?”
She continued, “I was grabbed by my hand and thrown against the wall.”
POLICE DENY ALLEGATION
The Nuh police denied the allegation as “untrue” and an “attempt to show the law enforcers in a bad light”.
“Investigations are on, and we are making arrests based on solid evidence. We have sufficient materials. No guilty will be spared, but at the same time, no innocent will be harassed as well,” said a senior police official in his brief reply when asked about the allegations.
ADMIN IS TRANSPARENT
Zakir Khan, a former MLA and a leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said, “As per my information, the administration has arrested some individuals and then released others. Whether the arrests are fair or unfair will become clear after an investigation. We have suggested that the police should arrest individuals only after verifying their identity.”
Regarding questions about the provocative videos released by Monu Manesar and his apparent defence by his party’s leaders, he said, “The administration has been transparent. They have made their stance clear to all of us. The chief minister, the home minister and the deputy commissioner of police have all expressed their opinions. Now, what else is there to say?”
He also claimed that administrative failure occurred because it was assured in the peace committee meeting held on July 27 that nothing like this would happen. Hence, he believes this is not the failure of the administration but of the peace committee.
It was revealed recently that Haryana Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala had received information about the violence in the morning itself and alerted ADG CID and SP Nuh accordingly. So the question arises that when the government already had inputs about the build-up, why was it still allowed to happen?
On July 31, communal violence erupted in Nuh, the single predominantly Muslim district in Haryana. While there are different accounts about the immediate cause of the violence, both sides agree on one thing: the provocative atmosphere and hateful online build-up in Haryana in the days and months that led to the violence.
Following the violence, many instances of anti-Muslim violence in response to the Nuh clashes were reported from different parts of Haryana like Sohna, Gurugram, Palwal, Bahadurgarh and Faridabad.
The violence resulted in six deaths, including home guard men. In the industrial city of Gurugram, which houses many multinational companies, a young Muslim cleric was shot dead, and a mosque was torched by a murderous mob.
Reports of hate assemblies calling for boycotts and attacks against Muslims were reported from different cities.
Hindu nationalists led by the VHP accused the Meo Muslims of Mewat of violently ambushing the Braj Mandal Jalabhishek Yatra. On the other hand, the Meo-Muslims blame the Hindu nationalists led by the Bajrang Dal for initiating the violence. The Muslims allege that a video by the absconding cow vigilante leader Mohit Yadav, who goes by the name Monu Manesar and is said to be involved in the murder of two Muslim youths from the region, provoked the riots.
In the past, Manesar has been associated with several gruesome cases of communal violence whose videos were filmed and shared by him and his associates on their social media.
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