New Delhi: Following the polarising anti-Muslim mahapanchayats that were held in Palwal and Gurgugram by the Bajrang Dal in favour of the accused in killings of Rajasthan residents Junaid and Nasir in Haryana, two more suspected hate attacks have been reported from the area in which two people were injured.
In the first incident, Nadir, a resident of the Madokhra village, was attacked at Palwal Hathin crossing by a group led by the driver of the auto in which he was travelling on the evening of February 22. The group of people assaulted Nadir after ascertaining his religious identity, the family has alleged. Nadir, the victim, was left in some bushes after he was attacked. He was briefly treated at Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi and has now been moved to a local hospital in his hometown.
Naseem Ahmed, kin of Nadir, said, “He was returning from his workplace. He was travelling in an auto and took the usual route he does every day. On the way, the auto driver claimed the vehicle is out of fuel and asked Nadir to get down. He was identified as a Muslim, after which he was assaulted and left there.” Akhtar Jamal, the father of Nadir, said, “He was attacked and left there to die. He is seriously injured now and is being treated at the hospital.”
In the second incident, Salim and Mujahid, two people from the same family, were going to buy livestock when they were stopped and beaten up by a group of three people. The incident took place at Manpur village, where both were attacked by a group of vigilantes, who they allege were right-wing activists, on the morning of February 23. Salim was attacked by an axe and was gashed, while Mujahid was able to escape from the attackers.
Salim was admitted to Hathin Government Hospital after the incident. He said, “They just said that we are Muslims and attacked us.” The alleged attackers also looted around Rs 50,000, which the duo was carrying to buy the livestock, along with Salim’s wristwatch. Salim’s motorcycle was also damaged in the incident.
A first information report (FIR) has been filed about the incident at Mutkati Police Station. The station house officer, however, said it was not a hate crime and dismissed it as a “small incident”. He also denied that money and a wristwatch were stolen. The FIR copy accessed by The Wire, however, mentions the looting of money and the wristwatch.
The complaint given by Salim to the police narrates the incident. “We went to buy buffaloes by motorcycle and when we reached Manpur around 10 am, there were three people standing. When we wanted to buy buffaloes, those three people started calling us Mulla, Katua and other slurs. Later, they asked why these Muslims have come here, kill them. Then one out of those three attacked me with an axe.”
The police complaint continues, “They beat me up with sticks on my leg and snatched the Rs 50,000 I had for buying buffaloes. The people gathered there were saying that one of the three is a relative of the present sarpanch of Manpur village Devi Singh. They left me there in that state and ran away. Mujahid, who ran away, informed my family, and they arrived and took me to the government hospital.”
Though Salim sustained serious injuries and the attack against him, as described in the complaint as part of the FIR, appears to be communal in nature, the police did not invoke serious sections of religious hate crime but instead limited it to sections of an ordinary assault and intimidation (under Indian Penal Code sections 323, 34, 341, 506).
Some local activists and lawyers told The Wire that the area seems to be under the control and policing of cow vigilante groups. They believe that the two suspected hate attacks occurred because of the hate-filled Mahapanchayats held in support of Monu Manesar and Bajrang Dal activists suspected of killing Junaid and Nasir, who were found charred in a car. Locals connect both events to the charged environment created by the mahapanchayats in the area.
Mubarak, a local resident, said, “These events are in reaction to the polarised environment created by the Panchayats. The panchayat was attended by people from other districts also, and not just Muslims but also the police were warned against taking action on Monu Manesar.”
Monu Manesar, a Bajrang Dal leader and a member of the Haryana government’s “cow protection task force”. His involvement in the murders has been accused by the families, but the Rajasthan police say there are still “investigating”. He has over three lakh followers across social media platforms and received a ‘silver play button’ from YouTube – where he posts violent content – after crossing the 1 lakh subscribers mark.
So far, the Rajasthan police say there is evidence against eight persons.
“The investigation is yet not complete. There are [at least a] dozen more people whose role is still being investigated,” Bharatpur range inspector general of police Gaurav Srivastava said on Wednesday. About the role of Monu Manesar and Lokesh Singhla, he said the police “will not name anybody” until there is “a certain level of conclusion”. He added, “I am not saying Monu Manesar is innocent or accused.”
In the first mahapanchayat, in Manesar town, on February 21, the Rajasthan government and police were warned of “dire consequences” if they were to arrest the men accused of killing Junaid and Nasir. In the second, held at Hathin on February 22, there were open calls for violence against Muslims and police who try to take action against Monu.