Nuh Riots: A Tragic Tale of Communal Violence in Haryana

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On 31 July 2023, a peaceful religious procession turned into a nightmare of communal violence in Nuh district of Haryana, a state in northern India. The procession, organized by Hindu nationalist groups Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal, was attacked by a mob of men who pelted stones and set cars on fire. The police, who were outnumbered and unprepared, resorted to firing at the crowd, killing three people, including two home guards who assist the police in controlling riots. At least 20 others were injured.

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The violence did not stop there. It spread to the neighboring areas of Faridabad, Palwal and Gurugram (formerly Gurgaon), on the outskirts of the capital, Delhi. In Gurugram, a mosque was set ablaze by another mob, who also killed the 26-year-old naib imam (deputy cleric) of the mosque. The police have arrested some suspects and are collecting videos related to the incident.

The state government has imposed a curfew in Nuh town and suspended internet services in the district till Wednesday, citing “intense communal tension” and danger to life and property. The federal government has sent additional security forces to the state following a request from the Haryana government.

What triggered this horrific episode of communal violence? According to some reports, the clash started after rumors surfaced that Monu Manesar, a member of the Bajrang Dal and a well-known cow vigilante, would attend the procession in Nuh. Manesar is wanted over his alleged role in the killing of two Muslim men earlier this year. He had also posted a video online saying he would join the procession.

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However, a VHP spokesperson denied that Manesar was part of the procession and claimed that their procession was attacked as part of a “well-planned conspiracy”. He said that more than 2,000 people who were taking part in the procession were stranded in a temple as the clashes escalated and were later evacuated by the police.

The chief minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar, who belongs to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has called the incident “unfortunate” and appealed for peace. He has also alleged a “big conspiracy” behind the violence and said that strict action will be taken against those responsible for the clashes.

The opposition parties have blamed the BJP-led state government for failing to control the law and order situation and prevent the violence. They have accused the government of allowing Hindu nationalist groups to take out provocative processions and incite communal hatred.

The Nuh riots have exposed the deep communal fault lines in Haryana, a state that has witnessed several incidents of violence and lynching in the name of cow protection in recent years. The riots have also raised questions about the role of the police and the administration in maintaining communal harmony and protecting the lives and properties of citizens.

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The Nuh riots are a tragic reminder of how communal violence can erupt at any time and place, fueled by rumors, hatred and intolerance.