“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 an 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 were 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 playing 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 breadwinner 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
5. 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.