Video Producer: Aparna Singh
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
According to an FIR filed in Rajasthan's Bharatpur, on the morning of 15 February, two Muslim men were allegedly assaulted and then kidnapped in the same Bolero car that they had been travelling in. The two men, Junaid and Nasir, have been missing since.
On 16 February, two charred skeletons were found in a burnt Bolero in the village of Barwas in Haryana’s Bhiwani district.
The two locations are around 150 km away from each other. But are the two incidents linked to one another?
While police are still probing the matter and have stated that it is yet inconclusive whether the skeletons found are of the two missing men - family members of one of the victims have purportedly claimed that the burnt car which has been found is theirs.
“The family went along with the police. The family claimed that upon seeing the number of the burnt car, they could identify it as their own.”- Jagat Singh, DSP Loharu, Haryana Police
First, let’s get to the details mentioned in the FIR which has been filed about the two missing men, Junaid and Nasir.
The FIR on the Alleged Assault
An FIR filed in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur, based on a complaint filed by Junaid’s cousin Ismail, alleges that Junaid and Nasir were travelling in a Bolero on 15 February.
The FIR mentions that the complainant Ismail has named Anil, Shrikant, Rinku Saini, Lokesh Singla, and Monu Manesar of the Bajrang Dal as being allegedly responsible for the attack.
The complaint states that Junaid and Nasir left around 5 am in their Bolero car. The complaint further adds that around 9 am, Junaid’s cousin was at a tea shop in Firozpur Jhirka when a man there informed him that earlier in the morning, two men who had come in a Bolero were drinking tea there, when eight to ten men began assaulting them and then took them away in the same Bolero car.
The complainant then states that he called up Junaid and Nasir but their phones were off. According to the FIR, Ismail then informed the family members and villagers about the situation, who showed up at the tea shop and upon making inquiries there, they were allegedly informed about the identities of the men who beat up Junaid and Nasir.
The FIR includes the following sections of the Indian Penal Code, three of which pertain to kidnapping:
143 - punishment for unlawful assembly
365 - kidnapping or abduction of any person with intent to cause that person to be secretly and wrongfully confined
367 - kidnapping or abduction in order to subject a person to grievous hurt, slavery, etc.
368 - wrongfully concealing or keeping in confinement, kidnapping or abduction of a person
‘Not Involved in Any Violence, Wasn’t Anywhere Close’: Monu Manesar’s Response
Speaking to The Quint, Monu Manesar, one of the Bajrang Dal members named in the FIR, 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.”
Monu claimed that the police has questioned him on the matter and that he has told them that he was not involved in the incident.
Monu Manesar has a long history of making anti-Muslim hate speech and calls for violence.
For instance, during his speech at a ‘Hindu Mahapanchayat’ event in Haryana’s Pataudi on 4 July 2021, Monu Manesar reportedly declared, “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!)”
But speaking to The Quint at around 8:15 pm on 16 February, Monu seemed to be taking a different line altogether.
He stated, “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.)”
Recently, in January 2023, Monu Manesar had been in the news in relation to yet another allegation of vigilante violence.
Days after a video went viral showing a 21-year-old man named Waris Khan being harassed by a mob inside a car, Waris’ family alleged that he 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.
The purported video, from the wee hours of Saturday, 28 January, shows Waris being aggressively shoved in a car along with two other men, following which the videographer asks them to tell their names on camera.
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.
The Burnt Car, With Two Skeletons Inside
On 16 February, two skeletons were found in a charred SUV in Barwas in Haryana's Bhiwani district.
In an initial statement on the matter, Loharu DSP Jagat Singh had stated, "Two skeletons were found in a charred Bolero in Loharu, Bhiwani district, today (16 February) at 8 am. There are chances that both victims died either due to a fire that broke out in the vehicle or were burnt to death."
The skeletons are being studied forensically for further details.
The police have also stated that they are probing CCTV footage of the nearby areas to ascertain when the car reached there.
(With inputs from Parvej Khan)