Video Producer: Vishnu Gopinath
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
"Hum woh Bajrang Dal wale hai hi nahi jo dhulai kar dete hai. (I am not among those Bajrang Dal people who beat people up.)"- Monu Manesar to The Quint
On the evening of 16 February 2023, hours after an FIR alleged that he was one of the people responsible for assaulting and kidnapping two Muslim men named Junaid and Nasir, the Bajrang Dal vigilante Monu Manesar, known for making repeated anti-Muslim hate speeches and calls for violence, was suddenly claiming he doesn’t ever beat people up.
Yet, this is what he boasted to a crowd gathered at a ‘Hindu Mahapanchayat’ event in Haryana’s Pataudi on 4 July 2021.
“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. (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.)”
Manesar continued, “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! (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!)”
Manesar has been in the headlines repeatedly over the past few years, in connection to hate speeches he has made or due to allegations of having engaged in anti-Muslim vigilante violence.
This week, Manesar is back in the news yet again, in the case pertaining to Junaid and Nasir, two Muslim men who were allegedly assaulted, kidnapped and then killed. Two charred skeletons were found in the car in which they had been travelling.
An FIR on the matter states that the complainant, Junaid’s cousin Ismail, has named Anil, Shrikant, Rinku Saini, Lokesh Singla, and Monu Manesar of the Bajrang Dal as being allegedly responsible for the attack.
With Rinku Saini already arrested in the case, the question of whether Monu Manesar will be next looms large.
At the time of writing this article, a support campaign in defence of Manesar with the hashtag #ISupportMonuManesar had already received thousands of tweets, mostly made by Hindutva activists.
So, who is Monu Manesar and what does his track record tell us about him? From videos of anti-Muslim harassment posted and livestreamed by him, to photographs with individuals such as Home Minister Amit Shah and Hindutva anchor-activist Suresh Chavhanke, here’s what we know about Monu Manesar.
Who Is Mohit Yadav aka Monu Manesar?
Mohit Yadav, who goes by the name Monu Manesar, is reportedly a polytechnic diploma holder who has risen up the ranks of the far-right Hindutva network in Haryana and is one of the prominent leaders of the Bajrang Dal in the state.
Speaking to The Quint on 16 February 2023, Manesar says, “My team and I work with the police to stop the killing of cows in this area.”
Manesar continues, “I am active on social media. People see my videos. Till date, I have never beaten up any of the people I have caught, I have never wronged anyway. I work with the police. I can guarantee that in the last 5-6 years, there is no video in which I have beaten anyone.”
But here is a list of evidence that disproves Manesar’s claims of non-violence.Expand
#1: Photographs of Wounded Victims
Why do so many men “caught” by Manesar and his gang appear wounded in the photographs posted by the vigilantes?
If Manesar and his cronies do not indulge in violence, then what explains the injuries in these photographs?Expand
#2: Video Evidence of Violence by Monu Manesar
An Alt News report on Monu Manesar also provides another compelling piece of evidence against Manesar’s claims of never engaging in violent vigilantism.
In June 2016, vigilantes from an outfit named Gau Rakshak Dal forced two Muslim men, Rizwan and Mukhtiar, whom they suspected were beef transporters, to eat a concoction of cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee.
Dharmendra Yadav, the then president of the Gurgaon Gau Rakshak Dal, admitted that they had forced the two men to eat ‘panchgavya’ (cow dung concoction).
Yadav told The Indian Express, “We had to chase the car for 7 km before we finally managed to stop them near the Badarpur border. When we caught them, they had 700 kg of beef in their car. We made them eat the panchgavya to teach them a lesson, and also to purify them.”
Interestingly enough, Monu Manesar was among the vigilantes present at the scene during this incident. Here is a photograph of him posing with the rest of the Gau Rakshak Dal members on that day.
Notice how once again the men “caught” by Manesar and his cohort have swollen and bloodied faces.
There is also video evidence of Monu Manesar directly engaging in violence.
Watch the video and notice Monu Manesar (wearing the same t-shirt as shown in the picture) holding down the man they are beating up, even as they force him to chant “Jai Shri Ram.”
It is important to note here that this is an incident that the vigilantes publicly owned up to, and a crucial piece of evidence against Monu Manesar’s claim of not engaging in violence.Expand
#3: Use of Weapons and Posting Videos of Gunfire on Social Media
Multiple videos posted on Monu Manesar’s social media accounts show use of gunfire by Manesar’s team while they pursue men whom they supposedly suspect of smuggling cows.
Here are a few such videos, which were posted on Manesar’s social media.
Significantly, in the following video, which was posted to Manesar’s Facebook account on 22 January 2023, the vigilantes can be heard referring to themselves as “Team Monu Manesar.”
The following video, posted by Manesar on his Instagram profile on 26 January 2023, contains the text “Tyre phod diye taskaro ki gaadi ke (We burst the tyres of the smugglers).” Further, the caption for the Instagram post by Manesar states, “Jab tak todenge nahi, tab tak chohdenge nahi (We won’t stop till we break them).”
There are also several pictures of Manesar on social media that show him with weapons.Expand
Sharing Videos of Vigilante Violence on His Own Social Media Accounts, and the Death of Waris Khan
There is also evidence of Manesar sharing videos of vigilante violence on his own social media pages. Here’s an example.
More recently, in January 2023, another such video posted by Monu Manesar had made headlines.
The purported video, from the wee hours of Saturday, 28 January, shows a 21-year-old man named Waris Khan being aggressively shoved in a car along with two other men, following which the videographer asks them to tell their names on camera.
Days after the video of Waris being harassed inside a car went viral, Waris’ family alleged that he had died of injuries after being beaten by Bajrang Dal's cow protection vigilantes.
But the police claimed that it was a car accident that resulted in Waris’ death. Khan was a car mechanic in Haryana's Nuh district and hailed from Hussainpur village.
Speaking to The Quint, Waris' elder brother Imran said that the video was accessed from a Facebook live video streamed by Monu Manesar. The video was deleted soon after, but by then it had been downloaded and circulated by many.
"Waris had been called by someone to come and fix their vehicle. That's where he was headed when men from the Bajrang Dal chased their car and hit it from behind. They then shoved them all in their car and beat them up," alleges Imran.
The family says that when they woke up the next morning they were informed by villagers of the live video that was posted around 5:30 am. After spending hours looking for Waris, they were told that he had been admitted to the government medical college in Nalhar.
"But by the time we reached there, we were told that Waris had passed away," stated Imran.Expand
Despite History of Violence, Made a Member of Haryana Govt’s Cow Protection Task Force
Despite a history of such unabashed violent vigilantism, Monu Manesar was made part of the cow protection task force of the Haryana government.
The special cow protection task force was notified by the Haryana government both at the state level and at the district level, and was tasked with preventing cow smuggling and killing of cows.
Along with being part of the cow protection task force, Manesar is also reportedly a member of the civil defence team of the district administration in Manesar.
Civil defence falls under the purview of the Haryana government’s Department of Home Guards and Civil Defence.
According to the department’s website, civil defence personnel are supposed to work towards the following objectives:
To save life
To minimise damage to property
To maintain continuity of production
To keep up the high morale of public
It is unclear whether the department has yet taken cognisance of Monu Manesar’s actions in the public domain which are in direct contravention of those principles.
Hindutva Social Media Influencer With Over 200,000 Subscribers on YouTube
The YouTube channel ‘MONU MANESAR BAJRANG DAL’ has over 206,000 subscribers at the time of writing this article, and has been active for over 6 years.
The channel is replete with videos of cattle vigilantism by Manesar and his cronies.
Manesar and his team regularly post videos of chasing vehicles which they suspect are illegally carrying cattle. Along with videos of the “rescued” cows, the channel also posts clips of the men they “catch” and hand over to the police.
Often, the videos do not detail whether the men “caught” by Monu and his group of vigilantes were transporting cattle legally.Expand
Impending Arrest? And a Defence Campaign Underway for Monu Manesar
There has been no statement from the Haryana government so far about whether they will revoke Manesar’s role on the cow protection task force and as a civil defence personnel.
Meanwhile, members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal held a press conference in Gurgaon in defence of the accused in the Junaid and Nasir case.
The Indian Express reported that Pawan Kumar, state president of the VHP in Haryana, said that Monu Manesar and gau rakshaks were being falsely framed.
Calling it a conspiracy against cow vigilantes, Kumar said, “There should be a thorough forensic probe by the police. Merely on the basis of statements of a relative of victims and without any investigation, the names of Bajrang Dal members have been added to the FIR. Let there be a CBI enquiry. If Monu Manesar is arrested under false charges, we will protest and hold a mahapanchayat.”
Manesar himself, while speaking to The Quint on 16 February, stated, “I did not know them (Junaid and Nasir), I wasn’t there or anywhere close. On the night of 14 February, I was with 8-9 of my friends and we stayed the night at a hotel in Gurgaon. We left only the next day at around 1 pm. I went to my home in Manesar on 15 February, there is CCTV footage of my movements. No one from the Bajrang Dal is involved in this case. Whoever did this should not be spared.”
One of the men mentioned in the FIR has been arrested. Gaurav Srivastava, Inspector General of Police (Bharatpur Range), stated, “Several teams were formed to nab the people named in the FIR.”
Given that Manesar is one of the people named in the FIR, will the Rajasthan Police arrest him next?