How Violent Cow Vigilantism Made Monu Manesar an Icon

Monu, a Bajrang Dal leader, and his team are actively involved in capturing alleged cow smugglers and handing them over to the police. Often, they do more.

“Bhaiyo yaha pe ek samadhan hona chahiye. Jo bhi Love Jihad karte hai, unki list humein de. Hum aur humari team unko maarenge bhai, khulla. Na toh hum kisi case se darrte hai kyunki naam toh main lena chahta nahi lekin apne bade bhai yaha baithe bhi hain wo hamari pairvi full karenge koi dikkat nahi hai aur jo Love Jihad karega, jo humari behan betiyon ko chherega, unko maarne ka kaam sirf aur sirf hum, humari team aur humari yuvasaathi karenge. Unse apna koi compromise nahi hai jo apni dharm pe ungli uthwane denge. Unko sirf aur sirf maarne pe hi hamara samadhan hoga, nahi toh koi samadhan nahi ho sakta. Yeh bhaashano se samadhan nahi hoga, unko maarna padega bhai. Jai Sri Ram!”

(Brothers, we should find a solution here. Give us a list of names of people who indulge in ‘Love Jihad’. Me and my team will beat them up openly. We are not afraid of police cases because our big brother is sitting here. I don’t want to name him, but he will have our back. Those who will indulge in ‘Love Jihad’, those who will tease our girls, we — our team and our young associates — will beat them up. We won’t compromise with those who will let fingers be pointed at our religion. The only solution is to beat them up. There is no other way to deal with this. Speeches will not work. They have to be beaten up. Jai Sri Ram!)

Rounds of applause and a collective cheer erupted as Monu Manesar left the podium after making an open call for violence at the Hindu Mahapanchayat in Haryana’s Pataudi on July 4, 2021. Monu, who leads a team of approximately 50 cow vigilantes or gau rakshaks in the Gurugram-Rewari-Nuh region, had earlier been introduced by the host as someone “who shoots and gets shot while protecting cows”.

Monu Manesar has made such open calls for violence not once but on many occasions. In November 2021, he issued violent threats against Muslims in the form of slogans at Gurugram’s Sector 12. “Hindu ke gaddaaron ko, Goli maaro saalon ko” (Translation: Shoot the traitors of Hinduism) thundered Monu and other saffron-clad Hindutva compatriots, amid children who also chimed in. The gathering was meant to register a protest against Muslims offering namaz in public places on Fridays.

Recently, Monu made headlines after the death of a man named Waaris in Haryana’s Nuh area. Waaris’s family accused Monu of chasing and attacking Waaris and his associates, Nafis and Shaukeen, on suspicions of cow smuggling in the early hours of January 28. The claims were refuted by the police who gave a clean chit to Monu. According to the law enforcers, the car that Waaris and his associates were travelling in crashed with a tempo on the Tauru-Bhiwadi Road in Haryana on Saturday around 5 am and the three suffered grave injuries. Waaris later succumbed to his injuries at the government medical college in Nalhar.

The police statement, however, has gaping holes in the chain of events. According to their statement, Monu’s team went live on Facebook after nabbing Waaris and his associates. A clip seemingly from the Facebook live-stream (which has since been deleted), purportedly shows Waaris and his two associates being questioned about their names and respective villages.

“In the video, it is clear that he has no serious injury. He is answering questions normally. How did he later succumb to internal injuries?” asks Waaris’s elder brother Imran.

Who is Monu Manesar?

Mohit ‘Monu’ Manesar is a polytechnic diploma holder who claims that his true calling in life is saving Gaumata and protecting his Dharma. Monu and his team are actively involved in capturing alleged cow smugglers and handing them over to the police. Speaking to Alt News over phone, Monu talked about the deciding moment in his life when he realized that cow-vigilantism should be his true calling. “While returning home from college one day, my friends and I chanced upon a truck full of cow remains with blood dripping from it. We stopped the truck and informed the police. Two persons belonging to the Muslim community were apprehended. This was when I realised that Gaumata and our Dharam were being dishonoured.”

Often, Monu and his team live-stream the process of chasing a vehicle that is suspected of illegally carrying cattle. After the ‘smugglers’ are nabbed, Monu and his team post several images of the rescued cattle and the accused on their social media pages as ‘conquests’. They also add an image of the entire team in all its glory, with some of the members standing atop trucks and some even carrying firearms.

Monu Manesar is the district coordinator of Bajrang Dal. During his second year of college in 2013, he was inducted into Bajrang Dal by Dharmender Manesar and Manjeet Babra. We asked Monu why he had joined the far-right organisation, to which Monu confidently replied, “Desh ka bal, Bajrang Dal”.

Explaining his modus operandi, Monu told Alt News, “Our work includes taking tip from people who usually work night shifts, like security guards and local dairy workers. Upon spotting a suspicious vehicle, the sources immediately alert my team. We, in turn, inform the police who reach the spot. On occasions when the police are unable to reach the location, me and my team do the needful and hand the apprehended persons over to the police.”

Apart from this, Monu is backed by the establishment. As part of its attempt at preventing cow smuggling, the Haryana government formed special task forces both at the state level and the district level. This task force involves several self-proclaimed gau rakshaks, including Monu himself.

These Task Forces prevent illegal transportation, smuggling and slaughtering of cow progeny. They collect information about smuggling and slaughtering, take legal action, and rescue and rehabilitate stray cattle.

Monu is also a member of the civil defence team of the district administration in Manesar. He told Alt News that he became interested in civil defence when he learnt that the team helped people regardless of their identity and religion. In the following photo, he is seen in the civil defence uniform.

Apart from cow vigilantism, Monu and his team run businesses on the side. Some make an income renting out rooms while some work in transportation. According to an Indian Express report, Monu earns an income from subletting rooms to labourers in Manesar. On being asked if they get any funding from the government in an interview with ABP’s Uncut, Monu says the society contributes all of the funds that are required for their work and that they don’t take any money from the government. However, the laws against cow smuggling have made it easy for them to continue their work.

Monu Manesar’s ‘vigilantism’

Monu claims that in the process of capturing alleged cow smugglers, his team has never assaulted any of them. “We have been doing this for a long time and we have never hit the accused. Waaris’s case was no different,” claims Monu in the interview with Uncut.

However, a lot of the pictures that they post after their successful ‘operations’ show the accused in a wounded state. In Waaris’s case, Monu Manesar and the police affirmed that he died from injuries due to the collision. However, an undeniable pattern is seen in Monu and his team’s modus operandi which is in direct conflict with Monu’s claims of non-violence.

In the early years of Monu’s vigilantism, pictures posted on social media would often portray some of the members grabbing the accused person’s hair. The same tactic was also practised by Dharmender Manesar, the person who introduced Monu to Bajrang Dal.

Alt News was able to procure several images from the incident. Monu Manesar was also present at the scene and can be seen posing with the rest of the Gau Rakshak Dal members with the alleged cow smugglers. The accused have swollen and bloodied faces.

This article originally appeared on AltNews.