Hundreds of villagers and people from right-wing groups gathered in Haryana’s Manesar district on Tuesday to support Mohit Yadav, also known as Monu Manesar. Yadav is one of the main suspects in the brutal murder of two Muslim men, whose burned bodies were found inside a burned car last week.
In the first information report (FIR), the Rajasthan Police have named five people. All of them are members of right-wing groups, but only one of them has been arrested. Police say that cow vigilante groups were involved in the deaths of Mohammed Junaid, 35, and Mohammed Nasir, 27, on February 16.
On Tuesday, the Hindu mahapanchayat in Manesar village spoke out in support of Monu, who is facing four cases. They also blocked the road between Delhi and Jaipur for a short time to protest the police coming to his house.
“There have been raids in the village to look for Monu Manesar, and his family has been bothered. We won’t let the Rajasthan Police leave the village alive if they come in. Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, a member of the Bajrang Dal who was also on the mahapanchayat, said, “We have told the police in Pataudi and Manesar not to let the Rajasthan Police into the village.”
The mahapanchayat also put together a 16-person team of cow vigilantes to “protect” Monu and his family.
Junaid and Nasir left their home in the Bharatpur district of Rajasthan at 5 a.m. in a car, but a group of men allegedly attacked them and beat them badly near the Piruka forests in the state. Twenty-seven hours later, their bodies were found in a burned-out car 165 kilometres away in the district of Bhiwani in Haryana. The FIR said that Monu, a member of Bajrang Dal, along with Rinku Saini, Srikant Pandit, Lokesh Singhla, and Anil, who are also members of cow vigilante groups, attacked the two men. Rinku Saini is the only one who has been caught so far.
Monu is a popular figure in Manesar district. He is in charge of the “Monu Manesar Bajrang Dal” YouTube channel, which has more than 200,000 subscribers. He and his team of cow vigilantes often post videos on YouTube and other social media sites of them chasing people they think are stealing cattle. They also post pictures of people who have been arrested and cattle that have been “saved.” At least four cases have been filed against him in the Indian states of Haryana and Rajasthan.
People at the mahapanchayat called Monu a hero and said that cow smuggling was stopped in the area because of him. During speeches at the mahapanchayat, it was said that a false case was filed against the accused and that Monu Manesar was not in Nuh on the day of the incident. “We have footage from the hotel where he stayed that night that was caught on CCTV. Police in Rajasthan have been bothering cow vigilantes and are now going on raids. “They beat up Srikant’s wife, who was nine months pregnant, and now the young people are angry,” Devender Yadav, a member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, said.
Yadav was talking about Srikant Pandit, who is 30 years old and lives in Nuh’s Maroda village. He is known for telling on cow vigilante groups.
In a video that came out soon after the killing, Monu condemned it and said that his team had nothing to do with it. Harinder Singh, who is an assistant police commissioner in Pataudi, said that the situation had been taken care of by the state police. “We will not let the people take law in their hands,” Singh said.
Two police officers from the Pataudi police station went to the village of Manesar to give Monu notice that his licence to carry arms would be taken away.
Kulvinder Singh, the joint commissioner of police in Gurugram, said that Monu’s name came up in a criminal case, so a notice has been sent to take away his gun licence (murder of two Muslim men). “We don’t renew or give new gun licences to people who have been charged with a crime,” he said.
In a protest at Manesar village at 11 a.m., members of the mahapanchayat poured out onto the Delhi-Jaipur highway and stopped traffic around 2 p.m.
Om Prakash, who used to be the village chief of Manesar, said that the police shouldn’t take away his gun licence but should instead make the area safer. “Monu has been helping the police catch people who steal cows. If the police take away the gun licence, his life will be in danger,” he said.
Rashid Khan, a social activist from Punhana in Nuh, said that the mahapanchayat was held for a criminal who was named in the FIR. “This is a shameful act by senior members of the society, trying to hide the criminal activities of a man who has brutally killed two men and set them on fire. All of those who are protecting Monu Manesar must be punished, he said.
Another social activist, Rajuddin Meo, said that the mahapanchayat will send the wrong message to the people. “If Monu Manesar is not guilty, let him join the investigation and let the police decide,” he said.
Umesh Mishra, who is in charge of all the police in Rajasthan, refused to say anything about what happened. “The probe is under way. We’re sure that at least eight people took part in the act. We have asked the Haryana police for help, and they are giving it. The police of both the states are coordinating,” he added.