Nuh, a district in Haryana in the region of Mewat organised a people’s conference for communal harmony and brotherhood on June 20, where several individuals from Mewat including ASHA workers, mid-day meal workers, officials, members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) as well as sanitation workers came together as citizens of India, to promote communal harmony. This was in wake of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Sangh Parivar’s alleged attempts to create violent differences between different religious and caste groups, especially against Muslims and Dalits. Women, especially, joined the conference in large numbers. A visible demand and thought reverberating through the individuals who participated in the conference was that the rights granted by the Constitution of India should be equally granted to all, justice especially should be equally accessible to all.
The incident that prompted this conference was the brutal murder of a young man, Asif, allegedly by certain infamous hooligans from Nuh, who are notorious for committing ruthless acts of violence. A resident of Khera Khalilpur village, Asif had gone out to buy medicines with his brother when both of them were attacked. After thrashing them, assuming that Asif’s brother was dead, this band of vigilantes kidnapped Asif and then murdered him. After the incident, there were arrests of people including those responsible for this heinous act. But, true to their routine way of doing things, a Hindu Maha Panchayat was organised soon after on May 30 by members of the Sangh Parivar.
This Hindu Maha Panchayat was called under the presiding presence of BJP members, including Suraj Pal Amu who was later ‘honoured’ by being given the media spokesmanship of the party. Amu has made several allegedly hateful comments against Muslims in the past. He is also the chief of Karni Sena, a Rajput interest group known to incite violence. Joining them were also the Loni BJP MLA and Naresh Kumar, one of the main accused in the vicious religiously instigated murder of Junaid, a 16-year-old boy. The purpose of the gathering was allegedly to destroy any semblance of communal harmony that has existed in Mewat. This select group of individuals from BJP, made several provoking statements in the panchayat. They not only claimed that any act of violence against Muslims ought to be condoned but also that those accused in Asif’s murder are innocent. According to what is by now characteristic of the ruling party’s functioning, they supported extra-constitutional violence against Muslims while making polarising statements. Individuals accused in Asif’s case were released soon after.
These actions, along with the rising communal hatred and violence in the country brought together individuals for the people’s conference on June 20. Although there were threats, including threats of violence allegedly by the members of the Sangh Parivar who visited villages to warn people against attending the conference, the turnout was overwhelming with more than 600 people. The conference was conducted by Ashraf from All India Lawyers’ Union, Subhash Lamba the state government employees’ leader, Shaheedana the Mewat Sabha President, Aryaveer, CITU leader Surinder Singh as well as Badal Saroj and Inderjit, leaders from the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS). Subhashini Ali, an ex MP from CPIM was the chief guest while Savita from AIDWA and Surekha from Asha workers’ union also played a crucial role in mobilisation and speaking at the conference. The individuals who participated in and organised this conference voiced that one of the biggest requirements for this country today is to fight against communalism.
The aim of the people’s conference in Nuh was to promote communal harmony while also demanding the arrest of all accused, and compensation for the families of the victims of communal vigilantism. The common consensus the collectives in the people’s conference demonstrated was that they wanted to show visible solidarity in the face of the growing communalism in India. They were clear that matters of law should be handled Constitutionally and not by self-proclaimed violent vigilantes.