Amid communal tensions in Haryana, state Home Minister Anil Vij said that action will be taken against Bajrang Dal leader and cow vigilante Monu Manesar. "Even in this case, if he [Manesar] has any role, he will not be spared," Vij said.
Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh on Wednesday, 2 August, Vij also revealed that a three-member committee had been formed to scan and monitor social media activities, specifically online posts that surfaced between 21 July to 31 July.
"Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and others will be closely examined/Scanned for any provocative posts. The committee will take appropriate legal action against individuals found spreading feeling of hatred or misinformation," read a state government press release.
The home minister stated that social media had played a significant role in fueling the violence in Nuh, which claimed the lives of six people including two home guards.
Clashes initially broke out on Monday, 31 July, during a religious procession that had been organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
While Monu Manesar was expected to attend the procession, he reportedly decided not to participate. Manesar is on the run as an accused in the Junaid-Nasir murder case, where the bodies of two Muslim men from Rajasthan’s Bharatpur were found burnt inside a car in Haryana’s Bhiwani in February this year.
Since then, several new cases of violence have been reported as mobs vandalised shops and torched vehicles. Massive damage has reportedly been inflicted to public and private properties in the state.
Internet Shutdown Extended in Parts of Haryana
After violence had erupted in the state earlier this week, the Haryana government imposed Section 144 of the CrPc in the riot-affected areas like Nuh. Internet services had also been suspended in parts of the state till 2 August.
On Wednesday, the additional chief secretary of the Haryana government extended the internet shutdown till 11:59pm on 5 August in Nuh, Faridabad, Palwal, and parts of Gurugram district like Sohna, Pataudi, and Manesar. All SMS services (only bulk SMS & excluding banking and mobile recharge) and dongle services have also been banned.
"After assessment of the current prevailing law &order situatlon as well as recommendation of the Deputy Commissioners, I am of this view that there is a clear potential of disruption of public utilities, damage to public assets and amnenities and disturbance of public law and order in districts Nuh, Faridabad, Palwal and in the territorial jurisdictionof SubDivision Sohna, Pataudi and Manesar of district Gurugram on account of misuse of internet services by way of spread of inflammatory material and false rumours..." read the order extending the internet shutdown.
India has consistently topped the list of witnessing the largest number of internet shutdowns than anywhere else in the world.
"Access to the internet is not only essential for freedom of expression and association, but also for a range of economic and social rights. As governments continue to digitize and automate core social security programs, internet access has and will increasingly become vital for the realization of the rights to social security, education, health, work, and the right to food, among others," reads a report jointly published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF).
VHP Organises Nation-Wide Protests
Even as the authorities made efforts to deescalate the situation in Haryana, members of the VHP and Bajrang Dal on Wednesday took to protests across Delhi-NCR and several other parts of the country, against the communal violence that ravaged Haryana since 31 July.
While security was heightened in sensitive areas in Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, protesters took to streets in Noida, Agra, Badarpur, Unnao, Yamuna Nagar, Rewari, Azamgarh, Sitapur, Moradabad, and Bhopal among others.
Members of the Bajrang Dal and VHP protested at several places in Delhi including Nirman Vihar, Ghonda Chowk, and the Badarpur border. While protesters briefly blocked the Badarpur border earlier on Wednesday, many called for 'boycotting' businesses by Muslims outside the Nangloi police station.
Across protest sites, Hindu outfits decried the alleged "planed and sponsored attacks", raised slogans against the Manohar Lal Khattar government, chanted Hanuman Chalisa, and demanded that the state government and the Centre take strict action against those responsible for the communal tensions.