Communal clashes near India’s capital ahead of G20 summit

Lazy eyes listen


With India still reeling from unrelenting ethnic violence in the distant northeastern state of Manipur, tensions have flared in Haryana state, which borders the national capital New Delhi. Earlier this week, communal violence erupted in the Muslim-majority Nuh area over a Hindu religious procession organized by right-wing parties.

While normalcy is gradually returning to riot-ravaged areas of the state, the conflicts have gained attention outside India, particularly in the United States, in light of the approaching G20 leadership summit in New Delhi in September. During a briefing on Wednesday, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller urged the parties to avoid violence.

On Thursday, the Indian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman stated that local officials were “trying.”

A prohibitory order established earlier this week in Nuh, the focus of the unrest, was withdrawn on Thursday. Internet services, which had been interrupted in the Nuh, Faridabad, and Palwal districts, as well as some areas of the Gurugram district, were also partially restored. Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij, who launched an investigation into the rioting on Tuesday, called the incident a “mastermind plan” and a “premeditated conspiracy,” but did not name the culprits.

According to Haryana police, six people were killed, including a Muslim cleric and two civil defense employees. According to reports, dozens of people were injured and property worth millions of rupees was destroyed in the unrest, leading many Muslims to escape to safer areas, like nearby Delhi.

Over 40 people have been charged with rioting, arson, and destruction thus far, and more than 100 have been arrested for questioning, according to police.

The incident began after a march planned by the Hindu right-wing organizations Vishva Hindu, Parishad, and the Bajrang Dal in the Nuh district, which has a Muslim majority of roughly 80% according to the 2011 census. The outfits are recognized for their pro-Hindu philosophy, which is similar to that of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Since 2021, the procession has been held annually.

By Tuesday, the fights had extended to Gurugram, a city 30 kilometers south of the national capital that serves as a financial and information technology hub for major global corporations such as Google, Amazon, E&Y, Genpact, Accenture, and Nokia.

Tensions intensified after rumors circulated that a right-wing activist named Monu Maneser, a Bajrang Dal member and self-proclaimed cow vigilante, would also march in the procession. Manesar is suspected of murdering two cousins, Junaid and Nasir, on suspicion of cattle smuggling. In February, their burnt bodies were discovered inside a car in Haryana’s Bhiwani district.

The state government reacted quickly after a mosque in Gurugram was set on fire and a Muslim preacher was slain. Prohibitory orders were imposed in some parts of the state as part of a blame game between the opposition and the Haryana government, the echoes of which might be heard in the ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament, which is already being disturbed by the months-long shutdown.