State Home Minister sought additional forces from the Centre, claiming that “3,000-4,000 persons were being held hostage in a temple” until Monday evening.
At least two people died and about a dozen people, including 10 police personnel, were injured in a clash that broke out on Monday during a procession taken out by the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Haryana’s Nuh. As communal violence flared in the district, internet services were suspended, prohibitory orders were imposed, and the state Home Minister sought additional forces from the Centre, claiming that “3,000-4,000 persons were being held hostage in a temple” until Monday evening.
By 7 pm, violence had spread to Sohna Chowk near Gurgaon, with some vehicles being set on fire. Chief Minister M L Khattar, meanwhile, appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony. “The kind of situation that has emerged in Nuh makes it even more important for all the people of the state to be more responsible and ensure brotherhood,” he said. “All the issues can be resolved by way of talks. Nobody should indulge in sending/circulating any wrong information/messages. Nobody is above the Constitution of India.”
The Brij Mandal Jalabhishek Yatra was flagged off in the morning from Gurgaon’s Civil Lines by BJP district president Gargi Kakkar and others, and the participants were going to Ferozepur Jhirka, passing through Nuh around 1.30 pm. Roughly 1,000 police officers were deployed at three sites along its route. Officials said the yatra’s organizers had permission from the district administration.
Police said the procession was stopped by a group of young men near Khedla Mod in Nuh and stones were pelted at the participants. “One or two cars” in the procession were also set on fire, officers said, adding that violence continued to spiral despite the heavy police deployment.
A senior officer in the Chief Minister’s office told ASH24 News in the evening, “The situation is being regularly monitored at the highest level in the government. The Director General of Police, ADGP (CID), and other key officials of the police department are in constant touch with officers at the ground level. Reinforcements have been sent, additional forces have been deployed. So far, the situation is under control. We are hopeful that the issue will be sorted out in the meeting that has been called by the Deputy Commissioner in his camp office at 8.30 pm.”
However, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij struck a more alarmist note, telling The Indian Express, “The situation is tense in Nuh. There are about 3,000-4,000 persons being held hostage at Narhar temple. All these were part of the VHP’s procession. We are trying our best to first rescue these people.”
“I just had a word with our ADGP (Law and Order) Mamta Singh. She is on the spot with additional forces. She has told me the police are making efforts to rescue these people from the temple, but there is a lot of resistance… Our primary objective is to restore peace in the area. As far as investigation is concerned, we will ascertain who was responsible for this situation and who were the actual culprits,” he said.
“I have also instructed Haryana’s Additional Chief Secretary (Home) to carry out an operation using a chopper to send additional forces so that all those who are held hostage in the temple can be rescued on priority. A few media persons are also hiding in the area because they were also fearing attacks. We are attempting to rescue them as well. I am constantly monitoring the situation and am in touch with the officials there on the ground. We shall be sending more forces, if required, and shall try to restore the peace as early as possible,” said Vij, adding that he has spoken to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla to send additional forces.
A district official put the number of those at the temple at 1,000 and said efforts are on to evacuate them. “Forces from Faridabad, Palwal, and Rewari have been called in,” he said.
Suspending internet in the district, Additional Chief Secretary (home) T V S N Prasad said in an order, “There is a clear potential of disruption of public utilities, damage to public assets and amenities and disturbance of public law and order in district Nuh on account of misuse of internet services by way of spread of inflammatory material and false rumors, which are being/could be transmitted/circulated to the public through social media/messaging services on mobile internet services, SMS services and other dongle services.”
“This order is issued to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order in the jurisdiction of Nuh district,” the order states.
In another order, Additional District Magistrate, Nuh, Renu Sogan, imposed Section 144 in the area. “It has been made to appear to me that there is the likelihood of causing tension, annoyance, obstruction or injury to a person, danger to human life, and property disturbance of public peace and tranquillity within the area of district Nuh in connection with Brij Mandal Darmik Yatra… and it is has been made to appear to me that carrying of weapons like licensed arms/firearms, swords, lathis… and other articles capable of causing injury and used as weapons of offense is likely to cause obstruction in the maintenance of peace and tranquillity… In exercise of powers vested in me by virtue of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, I do hereby prohibit, as a measure of emergency, the carrying of any weapons of offense… in Nuh with immediate effect till further orders,” the order states.
As the violence spread, INLD’s Abhay Chautala accused the BJP-JJP coalition government in Haryana of not taking adequate preventive action despite apprehensions of law and order disruption in Nuh.