VHP firm on Nuh rally on Monday; authorities shut down internet, schools & colleges, banks
The Nuh administration had earlier refused permission for the 'resuming' of the Brajmandal yatra on 28 August, in view of the recent communal violence
With the Vishva Hindu Parishad asserting that Hindu groups would go ahead with its procession in Haryana's Nuh on Monday, 28 August, authorities have ordered the closure of educational institutions and banks on the day, suspended mobile internet and bulk SMS services, and imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 in the communally sensitive district.
Haryana's director general of police (DGP) Shatrujeet Kapur said the administration has denied permission for the yatra due to a meeting of the G20 Sherpa Group being scheduled to be held in Nuh during September 3–7. The authorities are therefore keen to maintain law and order, given the experience of the July 31 violence and its aftermath.
In view of the yatra call, Kapur presided over a meeting with senior officers of bordering states through videoconferencing and called for a coordinated effort to effectively deal with the situation. The meeting was attended by senior police officers from Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and the Union territory of Chandigarh.
The government announced the decision to suspend mobile internet services through August 26–28, apprehending the spread of rumours through social media ahead of or during Monday's rally as happened in the build-up to the July violence.
Nuh deputy commissioner Dhirendra Khadgata told PTI over the phone that schools, colleges and banks shall remain closed on August 28.
General movement of the public is also restricted. Shops are also advised to remain closed on Monday, he said, adding that there will be strict enforcement of prohibitory orders under CrPC Section 144.
He also said there has been no permission for any yatra.
The VHP, however, insisted on Saturday, 26 August, that the 'shobha yatra (procession)' would be taken out through Mewat (the older name of Nuh district, referencing the Muslim-majority population of the Meo community) on August 28, and asserted there was no need to obtain permission from the administration for such religious events.
The VHP did, however, say it would inform the administration about the procession and was open to discussion on its form and size as "we do not want to cast a shadow on (any) G20 event".
Addressing a press conference in Delhi, VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain said the yatra would be taken out by the Sarva Hindu Samaj of Mewat, not the VHP itself.
He also appealed to people of other areas of Haryana to take out similar yatras in their respective localities and not join the one in Mewat.
Jain hoped that the yatra would remain “peaceful", claiming that Muslims of the area have offered to cooperate.
The order to suspend mobile internet services was also issued on Saturday, however, anticipating problems, and was announced by additional chief secretary (home) TVSN Prasad.
The district administration has also imposed Section 144 of the CrPC, prohibiting the assembly of four or more people in an area, as a precautionary measure. This order also prohibits people from carrying weapons, including licensed firearms, lathis, axes, tridents and others.
The Haryana government had earlier suspended mobile internet services in Nuh and nearby regions after communal clashes broke out in July and early August.
Six people, including two home guards and a cleric, were killed in the communal clashes that erupted in Nuh and its adjoining areas on July 31.
According to an official statement on Saturday, DGP Kapur said that despite permission being denied for the yatra, there were inputs that certain organisations had invited people from Haryana and neighbouring states to reach Nuh on August 28.
He said all necessary arrangements have been made by the Haryana Police in view of the yatra call, and personnel have been deployed to maintain law and order.
While emphasising the need for sharing intelligence inputs to effectively deal with the situation, Kapur asked senior police functionaries of bordering states to ensure regular monitoring of social media and share information about people who try to disrupt the peace through hate speeches and to take action against them according to the law.
Inter-state barricading has also been discussed to prevent any kind of mobilisation of people, Kapur said. No civilians would be allowed to take the law into their own hands either.
Kapur added that additional director general of police (law and order) Mamta Singh would be the nodal officer stationed in Nuh.
Kapur also also asked the police officers of bordering states to share in real time any incidents in their jurisdictions that can disrupt communal harmony, so that timely preventive action can be taken.
Deputy commissioner Khadgata, meanwhile, issued orders under Section 3(1) of the Punjab Village and Small Town Patrol Act, 1918, on Saturday to set up thikri pehra (community policing) in all villages and towns of Nuh district from August 26 to 28. Thikri pehra is typically called for in a context where people need to guard themselves in case of an emergency situation—it was deployed during Covid curfews, for instances.
Nuh's neighbouring districts, including Gurugram (which had seen considerable spillover from the July violence) and Faridabad, have been put on alert in view of the yatra call as well.
According to the Faridabad police, it has been noticed that some anti-social elements are spreading misleading news through social media that the yatra has obtained permission from the authorities and are encouraging people to take part in it. Such people are being monitored and strict action will be taken against them, the police said.
Meanwhile, in Chandigarh, Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda said it is everyone's right to hold yatras—but it is also the government's job to ensure law and order is maintained.
"No one should have any objection to the yatras," said Hooda, "but the government should take precaution in each case, considering its seriousness. Despite knowing everything last time, the government did not take proper steps and the government did not take cognisance of the provocative statements, which led to violence."
Hooda said that religious yatras were taken out even during the tenure of the previous Congress-led government in Mewat, but there was never any violence. But such incidents have become common under the BJP government, he alleged.