Video Producer: Mayank Chawla
Video Editor: Prajjwal Kumar
“Jaise ki aam ya koi aur phal ped se girta hai, vaise hi ghaayal log zameen par gir rahe the… (Injured people fell on the ground like how fruits fall from trees),” recalled Anil Mohania, a freelance journalist, and an eyewitness who was present when communal violence broke out during a religious procession in Haryana’s Nuh district on Monday, 31 July.
The ‘Brij Mandal Jalabhishek Yatra’ was organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal on Monday afternoon and was flagged off in Gurugram's Civil Lines.
The clashes broke out after rumours surrounding the attendance of a Bajrang Dal leader Monu Manesar, who is wanted over his alleged role in the killing of two Muslim men earlier this year, allegedly surfaced, NDTV reported.
Five people, including two home guards, were killed in Nuh. Early Tuesday, a mosque in Gurugram was set on fire, and the imam was killed, allegedly by a mob.
Mohania spoke to The Quint about what led to the violence in Nuh, how mobs pelted stones at the crowd, and how cars were set on fire, including his own vehicle.
How The Violence Unfolded in Nuh
Mohania said that the crowd taking part in the Yatra began to gather near Edward Chowk in Nuh town between 10.30 am and 1 pm.
The Yatra was flagged off in the morning from Civil Lines in Gurugram by BJP district president, Gargi Kakkar, as per news agency PTI. The Yatra was to reach Ferozepur Jhirka via Nuh.
However, violence erupted when it reached Nuh. Quoting police officials, PTI said that the Yatra was stopped by a group of men near Khedla Mod in Nuh and stones were pelted at the procession.
“The violence began 10 minutes after the procession started there around 2 pm. As the group walked down the main road, we saw from our car’s mirror that suddenly a mob entered the crowd and began to pelt stones at the crowd,” claimed Mohania.
While recording the violence in the camera, a few locals went to Mohania and asked him to leave from the area. “The situation started to become extremely tense,” he said.
'Vehicles Torched, No Help from Cops'
At around 2.30 pm, the mob began vandalising cars parked around the area. “Jitni bhi raaste mei gaadiya khadi thi, unn sabko toda gaya tha… (All the cars that were there were damaged)," Mohania told The Quint.
Initially, the cars were only being damaged, according to the eyewitness. “After the police tried to intervene and stop the mob, they (mob) began to set the cars ablaze," he claimed.
Mohania’s car -- a Wagon R -- too was attacked around 4 pm. “My car was toppled, the windows were smashed and later burnt right in front of my eyes,” he recalled.
When asked if police officials tried to stop the mob, Mohania claimed to The Quint, “A senior woman officer was standing right next to me but when I asked her if she can stop the mob, she said, ‘Kaise roku main unko? Mere haath mein kuch bhi nahi hai. Main kya kar sakti hun? (How can I stop them? Nothing is under my control. What can I do?)”
“Rukne ka naam hi nahi le rahe the… (They weren’t stopping). Only I know how bad I felt when I saw my car burn in front of my eyes. I lost all my important documents, camera equipment. Even my Aadhar and PAN cards were in the car… But, what could I have done?” lamented Mohania.
Meanwhile, a Nuh police official told The Indian Express, “One or two cars” in the procession were also set on fire, adding that violence continued to spiral despite heavy police deployment.
‘Crowd, Police Ran to Hide from Stone Pelters…’
The violence in Nuh district lasted more than four hours, said Mohania. He told The Quint, “Around 30-40 police officials were standing near me. They were trying to save themselves from the mob…”
“We (the crowd) and the police did not know from where we were being attacked. The mob pelted stones at us from all directions. While some were hiding behind cars, a few people were hiding under a tree. It was very disturbing to see," said Mohania.
He also claimed to The Quint that “two police officers were attacked right in front of me and then immediately fell to the ground."
Several police personnel were injured during the incident. Deputy Superintendent of Police (Hodal) Sajjan Dalal was shot at in the head while inspector Anil Kumar of Gurugram police sustained a bullet injury in his abdomen, a police official told Hindustan Times.
As communal violence flared up in the district, internet services were suspended, prohibitory orders including section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) were imposed. After news of the clash in Nuh spread, mobs in Sohna in Gurugram pelted stones, set ablaze vehicles and shops in the area.
On Tuesday, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij told news agency ANI that the communal violence that broke out was a “mastermind’s plan” to disturb the harmony in the state. Officials have been ordered to investigate the matter and the guilty will not be spared, Vij added.
"Today's incident is unfortunate, I appeal to all the people to maintain peace in the state. The guilty will not be spared at any cost, strictest action will be taken against them"Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar
Early Tuesday morning, a mosque was set on fire in Gurugram’s sector 57 allegedly by a mob, killing the naib imam. The Gurugram police said on Tuesday, 1 August, that they have identified the attackers in relation to the incident.