Nuh: Mosque set on fire, cleric killed in religious clashes in India’s Haryana

Burnt carts seen in Sohna
Image caption,Burnt vehicles were removed from the road and shops in Sohna, Gurugram remained closed on Tuesday

A mosque was set on fire and a Muslim cleric killed during religious clashes that broke out after a procession by Hindu nationalist groups in the northern Indian state of Haryana.

Those killed in the violence in the state include two “home guards”, who assist the police in controlling riots and public disturbances, police say.

Several policemen are among the injured and have been admitted to hospital.

A curfew has been imposed in Nuh town where the clash took place.

Chief Minister ML Khattar has called the incident “unfortunate” and appealed for peace.

Violence broke out on Monday afternoon during a procession taken out by the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Footage from Nuh showed stone-pelting by a mob as cars were set on fire and shops were vandalised.

More than 2,000 people who were in town to take part in the procession were stranded in a temple as the clashes escalated. They were later evacuated by the police.

Burnt cars seen in Nuh
Image caption,Visuals from the Nuh area showed cars that were set on fire and shops that were vandalised

A VHP spokesperson told BBC Hindi that their procession had been attacked and called it “part of a well-planned conspiracy”.

The state government suspended internet services in Nuh citing “intense communal tension” and danger to life and property.

The violence, which lasted for several hours, soon spread to the neighbouring areas of Faridabad, Palwal and Gurugram (formerly Gurgaon), on the outskirts of the capital, Delhi.

In Gurugram, a mosque was set ablaze by a mob.

A senior official said police had been deployed at the mosque when it was attacked. “But we were outnumbered by the attackers who opened fire suddenly,” Nitish Agarwal, Deputy Police Commissioner (East) of Gurugram, told BBC Hindi.

Police was now collecting videos related to the incident. “Some of the suspects have been identified and taken into custody,” Mr Agarwal said.

The federal government has sent additional security forces to the state following a request from the Haryana government.

Randeep Singh Surjewala, a leader of the opposition Congress party, has blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led state government for “failing to control the law and order situation”.

Lawmaker from the regional Indian National Lok Dal party Abhay Singh Chautala said the state government had failed to take preventative action despite security concerns.

“For the last two days, there were reports regarding a possible law and order disruption in Nuh,” Mr Chautala told the Indian Express newspaper.

He was referring to a video posted online by Monu Manesar, a member of the Bajrang Dal, saying he would attend the procession in Nuh.

Manesar is a well-known cow vigilante who regularly uploads videos of himself questioning cattle transporters. In recent years, cattle traders – many of them Muslim – have been assaulted by Hindu vigilante groups as the animal is venerated in the religion.

Mr Chautala asked, “When there was already information about his presence in the procession, why didn’t the police take adequate preventive action?”

Burnt carts seen in Sohna
Image caption,Carts and shops run by Muslims had been burnt, with smoke seen rising from some shops on Tuesday

As he appealed for peace on Monday night, Chief Minister Khattar said “strict action” would be taken against the perpetrators of the violence.

On Tuesday, BBC Hindi’s Abhinav Goel reported that security personnel were deployed in large numbers in the Sohna area of Gurugram district, with barricades every two kilometres on the road between Sohna and Nuh.

Carts and shops belonging to Muslims have been burnt and smoke can be seen rising from some shops even on Tuesday, our reporter added.

The state’s home minister said the situation was under control. But schools were shut and internet remained suspended in Faridabad, Palwal and Gurugram.

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