Violence in Nuh Follows the Sustained Pattern of Anti-Muslim Pogroms in India

Karan Varma

The recent Nuh violence is a new addition in the long chain of anti-Muslim pogroms in India under the BJP government. The frequency in which such incidents are happening and in areas which had no history of communal tension is extremely alarming. A month before Nuh, in June, a small town in the hilly state of Uttarakhand called Purola was witness to a large-scale anti-Muslim mobilization followed by violent attacks on Muslim residents and shopkeepers.

Both Nuh and Purola violence have a similar pattern of sustained, long term provocative mobilization (in the forms of organizing religious processions or yatras, social media posts and others) by the Hindu militant groups followed by the attacks and calls of social and financial boycott of the Muslims. The administration’s responses always, without exceptions, remain that of punishing the victims by registering false cases against them and bulldozing their houses and businesses instead of taking to task the perpetrators.

On 31st July 2023 an annual religious procession was carried out by the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, two militant armed wings of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a semi fascist organization which believes in supremacy of the Hindus over non-Hindu citizens of India. The Bharatiya Janta Party, which rules India and has governments in several states currently, is its political wing.

The Brij Mandal Jalabhishek Yatra (procession) has a recent origin. According to media reports, the Bajrang Dal and the VHP started the yatra in 2021. In the yatra the members of these wings march bearing firearms and swords and shouting anti-Muslim slogans through Muslim areas, such as Mewat, of the city. Every year the marchers sloganeer against Muslims and insult them, in an attempt to provoke violence. Although the Muslims of the city, just like the Muslims all over India, often ignore such attempts of provocations, however this year a cow vigilante Monu Manesar, who is wanted for the murder of two Muslim men, in a video posted in his Facebook page announced that he was going to join the yatra despite being a wanted man. He also urged Hindus to participate in the yatra. Likewise another cow vigilante Bittu Bajrangi too announced his joining.

This buildup was followed by the VHP general secretary Surendra Jain Nalhar’s visit to Mahadev Mandir in Mewat and delivering an incendiary speech against Muslims. According to the media reports, Jain there declared, “we have to change the character of Mewat for Mewat is not the land of cow killers, Hindu killers, ISI agents, Rohingya and Bangladeshi infiltrators, or those who convert Hindus.”

These steady provocations led to skirmish between the marching people and the Muslims of the city. In retaliation to the sloganeering and threat of violence by the members of the Hindu outfits, a small section of the city’s Muslim youth threw stones on the members of the Bajrang Dal and the VHP. While there are no reports of anyone on the side of the marchers getting hurt, the organizers of the march and their supporters dug out excuses to enact the pre-planned riots. Soon the violence also spread in adjoining areas and beyond.

In the aftermath of the incident the members of the VHP and Bajrang Dal, attacked the Muslims of the nearby cities such as Gurgaon, Sohna, Palwal, Bahadurgarh, and Faridabad. The attackers also burnt down a mosque in Gurgaon. Later on, the administration also shut down the internet, effectively stopping the dissemination of news from the area while simultaneously letting the Right wing media houses to run anti-Muslim propaganda. So far six people, including two policemen and a 22 year old Muslim cleric, have died in the violence while the situation is still tense. And like in Purola, several Muslims have left their cities following the open call for their boycott by the Hindu militant organizations.

The violence in Nuh is also seen in the light of the upcoming legislative elections in Rajasthan which is ruled by the Congress party. Being the largest state in terms of area, the BJP wants to win it back.

While the police and the state administration have chosen to overlook the role of the Hindu organizations in the Nuh violence, even though there is no dearth of evidence suggesting their culpability, nevertheless they have come down heavily on the Muslim population. According to several media reports, more than 150 have been arrested for rioting, mostly Muslims. The state administration has also razed to ground more than 300 Muslim houses and businesses in Nuh. The destruction of the Muslim houses and businesses has become a frequent pattern of how the governments run by the BJP deal with incidents of violence. In states ruled by the BJP such as Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and now Haryana, bulldozing of Muslim houses and shops is always the governments’ response after every incident of communal violence. It has become so brazen that even the courts, which have more often than not chosen to remain indifferent, have started to question its constitutionality. After the demolition drive in Nuh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, under which Nuh falls, has asked the state government if it is “an exercise of ethnic cleansing is being conducted by the State”. The High Court further said that though the Muslim-Hindu population ratio in Nuh is 80:20, the demolition proportion was 70:30.

While the state sanctioned and aided violence against India’s Muslim minority has a long, uninterrupted history, under the decade long RSS-BJP rule at the centre, it looks like it is reaching its climax. Every arm of state is being utilized to thoroughly subdue and disfranchise the Indian Muslims. In recent years, while attacks in form of physical violence and social boycotts and lynching of the Muslims by Hindu militant groups have received the government’s tacit support, the government on the other hand has brought many laws targeted at suppressing them.

In 2019 the BJP government at the centre passed the Citizenship Amendment Act. The act calls for a nationwide National Register of Citizens. Under this act, while the non-Muslims of neighbouring countries will be given citizenship, the onus of proving nationality has been kept on Muslims. In a North Eastern state of Assam, many poor Muslims have been disfranchised on one or another pretext, almost always arbitrarily. This led to a movement against the act in 2019, one of the longest and biggest movements in the history of India. Although the movement was rolled back by its organizers due to Covid 19, nevertheless the government arrested many of its leaders later on. Many prominent ones are still languishing in various jails of India.

Many BJP ruled states now have rules to keep the meat shops closed during the Hindu festivals. These shops are mainly run by the Muslims. While big meat corporations are allowed to deliver at home even during such days.

Likewise, around a dozen states in India now have laws against so-called Love Jihad. For long the Hindu outfits have sought for banning marriages between the Hindus and Muslims in the pretext of stopping religious conversion. While such reported cases have never stood the scrutiny in the courts, the states have been using the law to harass the Muslim boys and families.

Along with these, many welfare schemes, such as scholarships for the Muslim underprivileged students have been stopped. The BJP is also attempting to bring in other laws which effectively deprive the young Muslims of education, such as Karnataka’s anti-Hijab law which forced hundreds of Muslim girls to drop out of schools.

While such atrocities, state and state sanctioned, have become a daily affair now, the silence of the parliamentary parties is deafening. Fearing that speaking for the Muslims can dent their electoral performance; these parties have turned their back on them. The Muslims for now have no support whatsoever. In such a state what lies in the future for the Muslims isn’t hard to imagine.

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