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Communal Violence in Nuh: RSS’s New ‘Hindutva Laboratory’ Faces Resistance from Peasantry

Shamsher Singh |
The communal violence on July 31 in the district was an attempt to consolidate decade-long communal campaigns by the Hindutva Right wing in the region.
Nuh violence and Farmers united

The Nuh district of Haryana features among the country's most backward districts and is home to the Meo Muslim community. The communal violence that took place on July 31 in the district during a religious yatra (procession) was an attempt to consolidate decade-long communal campaigns launched by the Hindutva Right wing in the region.

Farming and cattle-rearing are the backbone of the rural economy of the entire Mewat region. The Right-wing groups have made the ‘Gauraksha’ the centre of their hate campaign against Muslims in the area. The recent violence in Nuh was also to teach a lesson to the Meos, who contributed actively to sustaining the anti-farm law movement of 2020-21 in and around Delhi. 

Open calls were made on social media to provoke the Jat peasantry against the Muslims in the days following the violence. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wanted to polarise Jats and use them against Muslims in Mewat. During the year-long farmers ' movement, this bid by RSS disrupted, to some extent, the larger unity among the farming classes across Haryana and Rajasthan.

Hate Machinery and Lynchings

Over the past decade, there has been a massive spike in incidents of attacks on Muslim cattle farmers by members of cow vigilante groups. In 2021, the Haryana government notified the Special Cow Protection Task Force (SCPTF) at the district and State Level Special Cow Protection Task Force Committee. The stated objective of the task force was to enforce “The Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act 2015” by taking action on grounds of suspicion of cattle smuggling and slaughtering. 

The institutionalisation of this controversial task force led to the integration of these self-proclaimed "gaurakshaks" (cow protectors) into the local law and order and administration machinery. These groups are free to set up check-posts and carry out raids. Without exception, Muslim cattle farmers have been victims at the hands of these groups.

The notorious activities of these gangs extend to the neighbouring state of Rajasthan as well. Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer from Nuh, who had bought cows and calves from a cattle fair in Rajasthan, was lynched in 2017 in Alwar by cow vigilantes. The announcement that the notorious Monu Manesar, a Bajrang Dal activist, will participate in the religious yatra was a planned move to communally charge the environment. Manesar is the primary suspect in the kidnapping and murder of two Meo youths, Nasir and Junaid, in Loharu in February this year. Currently absconding, he has also been accused of orchestrating a series of lynchings in the recent past, with none held accountable.

Anti-Farm Law Movement and Unity of Masses

The people’s movement against the three farm laws in 2020-21 was important in turning large sections of the peasantry against the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and its ruling ally, Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), in Haryana. The anti-farm-law movement was also significant in building solidarities and unity across different caste, class, religion and region markers. The practice of langar (community kitchen) played an essential role in bringing together Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities of the region.

During the farmers ' movement, it was a common sight for people from different communities to come together while cooking, eating, or sharing space. At several protest sites around the national capital, the Muslim peasantry played a critical role in sustaining the protests.  For example, the Meos supported the Dhansa–Badli border protest site, close to Gurugram city, where farmers from southern Haryana set up a camp in December 2020. Similarly, Shahjahanpur Kheda (on National Highway 48) on the border of Haryana and Rajasthan, Palwal (on National Highway 2), where farmers from Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh put up their tents, saw continuous support for a year from the local Muslim peasantry. (For more details, see

The Hindutva Right wing tried to weaken this unity of the people and disrupt the farmers’ movement by inciting communal violence and tension in areas around the protest sites. In May 2021, Asif Khan, in his late 20s, was murdered by a group of men who surrounded his car and beat him to death in what is said to have resulted from local strife.

The other incident was the death of another youth, 24-year-old Junaid of Jamalgarh, whose family alleged the Faridabad Police illegally detained and beat him brutally at the police station. The Right wing groups organised a number of panchayats in support of the accused in cases of lynching and violence, leading to sharp communal polarisation in the region.

The farmers’ collective, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), and All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), which is part of SKM, along with other farmer organisations, have worked actively to challenge the divisive agenda of the Right wing in the region. To unify the farmers and workers of the region and push back the Right-wing communal agenda, the SKM organised a rally on February 7, 2021, in Mewat, which had an impressive attendance from the farmers from Rajasthan and Haryana.

Another ‘Kisan-Mazdoor Bhaichara Panchayat’ (Worker-Peasant Solidarity Assembly) was organised on June 28, 2021, in Sunhera village of Nuh. The panchayat was held in the backdrop of the kidnapping and killing of Asif and Junaid.

Another Kisan Mahapanchyat was held on August 29 to keep communal forces at bay, which gave a call to unify the peasantry and workers against communal polarisation. These mobilisations were critical in countering the attempts to create divides between the peasantry on religious grounds.

Farmers’ Resistance to the Violence: The Way Ahead

A number of civil society organisations, farmers and trade unions have come out in big numbers across the state in support of the Meo community and have appealed for peace and harmony. As soon as the violence broke out in Nuh, farmer organisations in Haryana extended their open support to Muslims in the Mewat region and elsewhere in the state. The statements released and appeals made by the leading farmer leaders contained the spread of communal violence. 

After the violence, a few gram panchayats were coerced into passing resolutions branding Muslims as terrorists and banning their entry into villages by the Right-wing groups. Over the past few weeks, most of these panchayats retracted from their earlier fatwa.

In a few places, the Bajrang Dal threatened Muslim migrants, forcing them to leave. The farmer leaders opposed these provocations, and Muslim workers were ensured of their safety. Farmers and mass organisations have been holding peace meetings and marches across cities in Haryana and neighbouring Rajasthan to defeat the RSS agenda to incite violence. 

On August 5, farmers organised a Sarv Dharam Sammelan in Jind and passed a resolution to work for unity across all religions. Similarly, on August 9, a farmers’ panchayat in Baas village of Hisar district was called to discuss various demands of the farmers but instead focused on the Nuh violence. The panchayat was attended by the farmers from the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities of Haryana who resolved to work towards building peace in the violence-affected areas and expressed their commitment to stand with the victims.

A massive Kisan Mahapanchayat in Alwar on August 26 warned the Hindutva groups against spreading communal hatred and disharmony in the region.

Several khaps in Haryana condemned the violence and held the BJP government and its associates responsible. Khaps appealed to their constituents, especially the youth, not to fall prey to RSS and Bajrang Dal, who asked the Jats to come and fight for the “Hindu” cause.

It is to be noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while campaigning in Haryana during the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, had hailed the khaps and had sought their support for BJP. The party, which until that time was limited to urban pockets, made significant inroads into the Jat peasantry-dominated constituencies. The Khaps and Jat peasantry not only distancing itself from the Right-wing hate campaign but coming out against it is a crucial socio-political development in the region.

The resistance built by the mobilisation of farmers and workers in stopping the Right-wing agenda gives a crucial message for defeating the current communal and casteist ruling regime. It reaffirms that these mobilisations and solidarities across socially, culturally and religiously diverse working classes, need to be built to protect the country's secular structure.

(The author researches rural and agrarian issues. The views expressed are personal.)

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