The speeches made by several Hindutva leaders at the 'Gau Hatya Mahapaap' Mahapanchayat in Haryana’s Nuh on 8 May, had a surprising recurring target - Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
How and why was the Mahapanchayat, which was attended by hundreds of members of Hindutva outfits and cow vigilante groups targeting and at times, even insulting Khattar? Here’s a striking example.
Addressing the event, Munish Bhardwaj, a Bajrang Dal leader from Haryana’s Palwal stated, “Mitron, those who have a 56-inch chest, they are sycophants of the administration. But those whose chests are larger than 56 inches, they get on the streets and do gau raksha.”
Munish continued, “Those we have voted into power, what have they been doing for the last eight years? When the Congress was in power, we would protest, block the streets, to further our demands. But now, where is that bravery gone?”
“The day we start showing our anger to Khacchar…I will call him Khacchar and not Khattar…the day we start showing our anger to him, there will not be a single FIR against our karyakartas, nor will any cow killer get support from the administration.”Munish Bhardwaj, Bajrang Dal leader
Munish’s comment, which included a derogatory reference to BJP leader and Haryana CM ML Khattar as Khacchar, the Hindi word for mule, was met with chants of Jai Shri Ram from the crowd.
‘Revoke Cases Against Gau Rakshaks, Or Else You Will Be Out of Power’: Message to CM Khattar
Munish’s remark about FIRs was a reference to the FIR filed by the Haryana Police on 27 April against three to four unidentified persons after a video showing purported gau rakshaks yanking a man by his legs and dragging him across the ground went viral on social media.
The FIR reads, “In the video from village Sheikhpur, some young men are seen attacking a man and putting him in a Scorpio at gunpoint. Two-three men are seen holding sticks while one man seems to be firing a gunshot in the air with a pistol.”
It further reads, “In another video from Rawli village, a few young men are seen taking a man away and in a video from Basai Meo village, two young men are seen beating up an old man in a car.”
Note here that the FIR was made against unidentified persons. Despite the lack of anyone being named or arrested so far in the case, Hindutva vigilante outfits have been aggressively demanding the revocation of the FIR. In fact, this was one of the primary demands being made at the Mahapanchayat on 8 May.
For example, Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, a Hindutva leader and lawyer linked to the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, said addressing the Mahapanchayat, “The FIRs filed must be revoked. If FIRs have to be filed against us, they won’t be for such small things. It will be for when we hunt down the cow killers, beat and kill them.”
Kulbhushan was formerly part of the BJP’s Gurugram unit but had been expelled from the party in 2021 for alleged anti-party activities.
At the event, Kulbhushan’s sentiment was echoed by several other speakers. For example, Baba Chandrashekhar, a Hindutva preacher and monk from Barsana, said in his speech, “Khattar ji, this is our message to you: take the cases back, or you will be sent back (out of power) yourself.”
It is important to note here that the event was attended by a BJP MLA as well. In fact, some of the comments warning the BJP government in the state were made in front of Sanjay Singh, the MLA from Haryana’s Sohna.
‘Get in Line’: BJP Workers’ Warning to the BJP
Addressing the mahapanchayat, Surendra Singh, a BJP worker in Haryana’s Sangel, said, “Who is the guilty party in the current situation? Who is to blame? Number one, the government is guilty. In second place is the police and the (local) administration. The crowd that has gathered here today will kill cow killers and will also kill those protecting cow killers.”
He went on to make a threat targeting Mamman Khan, Congress MLA from Haryana’s Firozpur Jhirka, “Beta Mamman, don’t forget that you stay in Mewat. There are those who can set your Gurugram house ablaze. There are gau bhakts who can shake you up too.”
Mamman Khan was a particular and recurring target of the Mahapanchayat because of his statement saying that henceforth, no ‘gau rakshak’ will go to villages and take the law into their own hands, and that only the rule of law and the Constitution shall prevail.
Mamman Khan has since said that cow vigilantes have threatened to beat him up if he enters the state Assembly.
At the Mahapanchayat, Surendra Singh also warned, “Both parties need to be taught a lesson - those who kill cows, and those who let it happen. Both of them need to be punished, in some way or the other. There are two and a half years left of this (state) government…the government needs to get back in line…otherwise, it will not survive.”
“The government came to power because of these gau bhakts. Today, they think they’ve become MLAs, they think they’ve become Chief Minister…we are warning you, mend your ways, because otherwise we know how to get you in line.”Surendra Singh, BJP worker
Another speaker at the Mahapanchayat, Pandit Motiram, identified himself as a longtime worker of the BJP. In his address, Motiram said, “I have been a karyakarta of the BJP for decades, but now we are getting insulted by our own government. Khattar has favoured Mewat more than anywhere else. Now, Khattar is getting cases registered against gau bhakts. I implore him to go ahead further and register cases against a thousand gau rakshaks so that your name will go down in history as poorly as Congress folks like Ashok Gehlot, CM of neighbouring Rajasthan.”
He continued, “From the time the Khattar government came to power…”
At this point, a man stood up angrily from the crowd and demanded that the CM not be spoken against like this. He was made to sit down by the organisers.
Motiram continued, “Go show this josh at the jihadis, not here. What I’m saying is right. Speak up, all of you, and get the message right up to Modi, that (state) leadership like this will destroy the BJP. We need a new CM to be brought in.”
‘We Are Giving One Month’s Time to the Govt’: Mahapanchayat Organiser to BJP MLA
One of the key organisers of the Mahapanchayat, Acharya Yogendra Arya of the Gau Raksha Dal, Haryana, stated at the event, “We will give one month’s time to the government. If the government cannot stop the killing of cows in Mewat in one month, then let it be known that the Hindu samaj is with us (those who are present here). There is only one MLA from the government’s side who is here with us today, we thank him. I would also like to say this - that governments come and go, they always have.”
The MLA being referred to was Sanjay Singh, BJP MLA from Sohna in Haryana, who was present at the event.
Yogendra Arya’s speech was followed a short while later by Singh's own address. The BJP MLA was the penultimate speaker at the Mahapanchayat at which several threats and calls for violence were made, including against his fellow MLA in the Haryana Assembly, the Congress’ Mamman Khan.
In his address, Singh stated, “I will take your demands to the Chief Minister. I feel the demands put forth are great. In fact, you could have made even bigger demands. The CM is definitely 100% against the killing of cows. We will try everything to get these demands met, and we will definitely get them done.”
In a response against Congress MLA Mamman Khan’s statement that gau rakshaks would not be allowed to enter villages and take the law into their own hands, the BJP MLA replied, “Gau bhakts who want to do gau raksha will be fully welcomed to Mewat. This community will not live under pressure of any sort.”
Singh’s comment was met with loud cheers from the crowd of attendees at the Mahapanchayat.
‘Happening With BJP Support, but Maybe Out of BJP’s Control’: Congress MLA Responds to the Mahapanchayat
Speaking to The Quint, Aftab Ahmed, Congress MLA from Nuh, remarked about the Mahapanchayat, “It seems they are a law unto themselves. They are so buoyed by the support they have got that they do not fear any legal system or any personality.”
On the speakers at the Mahapanchayat criticising the BJP and particularly CM Khattar, Ahmed responded, “They were just playing to the gallery, and they are trying to get their way in any way they can. They want the rule of law to be compromised for their own purpose. But they are being wholly supported by the BJP because the BJP primarily wants polarisation on communal lines. That is why permission is granted for such events where weapons are brought, and harmful slogans and speeches are made. All of this shows that the BJP is in connivance with them.”
Ahmed added a cautionary note though, “But even though they act with the BJP’s support, now they are getting out of control of the party.”