Taking the Law into Ones Hand: Unravelling the Disturbing Trend of Vigilantism in India

From religious tensions to far-right ideologies, this report uncovers the factors driving violence and the need for urgent action.

Recent incidents in India reflect a troubling surge in cow-related violence, testing the nation’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and constitutional values.

India, a diverse and multicultural nation known for its vibrant traditions and rich history, has recently witnessed a disturbing surge in incidents that combine assault and cow-related violence. These events have raised serious concerns about the state of communal harmony, religious tolerance, and law and order in the country. This report seeks to shed light on a series of incidents that have occurred in various regions of India, demonstrating a worrying trend of violence rooted in religious and communal tensions.

In recent times, incidents involving harassment, physical assault, and extortion have come to the forefront, all tied to issues related to cows and religious identity. The incidents detailed in this report are a grim reminder of the need to address and resolve the underlying factors that fuel such violence. They underscore the importance of maintaining peace, harmony, and justice in a diverse and pluralistic society like India.

By exploring the incidents in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, Didwana, Rajasthan, Pachgaon, Gurugram, Haryana, and the tragic death of Razzak Khan in Gurugram, Haryana, we aim to offer insights into the complex web of factors contributing to such violence.  In a disturbing series of events, our article delves into the incidents of combined assault and cow-related violence that have recently occurred in various parts of India. These incidents have raised significant concerns and demand our attention as they involve acts of harassment, physical assault, and extortion, all based on religious and communal tensions. We will provide a comprehensive analysis of the incidents, taking into account available evidence and sourcing information carefully to present an accurate account of these troubling events.

  1. Kangra, Himachal Pradesh – Harassment of a Muslim Trader

On September 10, 2023 a video was posted by Hindutva watch, this troubling incident occurred in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, where a Muslim trader was harassed due to his faith by a group of Hindu far-right supporters. In the video, it can be observed that the individuals in question, who are not law enforcement, proceeded to inspect the Muslim trader’s car without authority. The trader was derogatorily referred to as a “mulle,” a term used to describe Muslims, and was asked for the registration papers of his car, despite the lack of any legal basis for such an action. This incident serves as a stark example of harassment based on religious identity.

  1. Didwana, Rajasthan – Assault on Sabir, a Muslim Scrap Dealer

In another disturbing incident which was posted by Hindutva watch on September 11, 2023, in Didwana, Rajasthan. Sabir, a Muslim scrap dealer, fell victim to a brutal assault allegedly over suspicion of stealing scrap. According to reports, the accused not only physically assaulted Sabir but also extorted 21,000 rupees from him under the pretext of a donation for the village cowshed. The incident was captured on video, and it quickly went viral on social media, drawing widespread attention. Subsequently, the police took action and arrested the individuals involved in the assault. However, the incident highlights the alarming trend of far-right Hindu supporters taking the law into their own hands.

  1. Pachgaon, Gurugram, Haryana – Assault on a Truck Driver

On September 11, 2023 a video was posted by Hindutva watch highlighting an incident occurred in Pachgaon, Gurugram, Haryana, where members of Monu Manesar’s cow militia assaulted a truck driver who was transporting. In a video of the incident, the assailants can be seen assaulting the driver, placing his slippers on the windshield of the truck, and displaying the truck’s registration number while chanting “gai mata ki jai” (hail mother cow). This incident underscores a disturbing pattern where individuals, driven by their religious beliefs, engage in acts of harassment and violence against others who are simply going about their daily routines.

  1. Gurugram, Haryana – Death of Razzak Khan

Again, a picture was posted by the observer post September 1, 2023, in Gurugram, Haryana, a driver named Razzak Khan, aged 54, from Nuh’s Tapkan Village, was found dead after he had traveled to Gurugram carrying goats. His son, Shakir, alleged that his father was beaten to death. The circumstances surrounding his death raise grave concerns, and it is essential to investigate the incident thoroughly to determine the cause and those responsible.

Background on the Region and Communal Dynamics:

To understand the recent incidents of combined assault and cow-related violence in Haryana and its neighbouring areas, it is essential to delve into the region’s historical and socio-political context. Haryana, like many parts of India, has a complex history characterised by both interfaith tolerance and communal tensions. This background provides important insights into the factors contributing to such incidents.

Interfaith Tolerance and Communal Forces:

  1. Historical Context: Haryana has a diverse religious landscape, with a significant Hindu population, along with sizable Muslim and Sikh communities. Historically, the state has been known for its coexistence of different faiths, with numerous religious sites and a rich cultural heritage.
  2. Changing Dynamics: In recent years, however, there have been growing concerns about the rise of communal forces and religious polarization in Haryana. This shift can be attributed to various factors, including political developments, economic disparities, and social tensions.
  3. Political Influence: The state’s political landscape plays a crucial role in shaping communal dynamics. The upcoming elections, both at the state and national levels, may have heightened the political rhetoric around religious identity and communalism, as political parties vie for votes.
  4. Economic Factors: Economic disparities and competition for resources, including land and jobs, have occasionally led to communal tensions. These tensions can be exploited by various groups for their own agendas.
  5. Recent Riots: The recent riots in Haryana, the Nuh violence which took place in early August have further underscored the challenges related to communal harmony in the region. These incidents may have fuelled existing tensions and contributed to an atmosphere of distrust and apprehension.

Election Context:

The proximity of the incidents to upcoming elections adds another layer of complexity. Elections often intensify political rhetoric, and candidates may use religious and communal issues to appeal to their voter base. This can exacerbate existing tensions and create an environment conducive to acts of violence or harassment.

In conclusion, Haryana and its neighbouring areas have historically experienced interfaith tolerance, but recent developments, including the rise of communal forces and the context of impending elections, have added complexity to the communal dynamics in the region. It is crucial for authorities, civil society, and responsible citizens to address these challenges proactively and promote a culture of religious and communal harmony to prevent further incidents of violence and ensure a peaceful coexistence of diverse communities.

Motivations and Ideology of the Far-Right Group:

To comprehend the motivations behind the violent acts committed by the far-right groups in these incidents, it is essential to delve into the ideologies that drive their actions and assess how these ideologies may have influenced their targeting of individuals from different faiths.

Hindutva Ideology:

The far-right groups involved in these incidents are often associated with the Hindutva ideology, which plays a significant role in shaping their motivations.

  • Hindutva as a Driving Force: Hindutva, or “Hindu” nationalism, is a core ideology for these groups. It advocates for the promotion and protection of Hindu culture, values, and traditions and envisions India as a Hindu-only nation. This ideological framework may have motivated them to assert their vision of a Hindu-centric India and protect what they perceive as Hindu interests.
  • Cow Protection: A central tenet of Hindutva ideology is the veneration of cows. Far-right groups mobilize under the banner of ‘gau raksha‘ (cow protection) and see it as their religious duty to safeguard cattle. They view any harm to cows as an affront to Hindu religious sentiment and may justify vigilantism in defence of their beliefs.

Communal Tensions:

Communal tensions and religious polarization have been on the rise in recent years in India, including the regions where these incidents occurred. Far-right groups exploit these tensions for their agendas.

  • Online Presence and Propaganda: These groups often maintain a strong online presence, using social media platforms to disseminate propaganda, rally supporters, and reinforce extremist views. Online echo chambers can further radicalize members and reinforce their commitment to their ideologies.

Targeting Individuals of Different Faiths:

The ideologies associated with these far-right groups may have influenced their decision to target individuals from different faiths.

  • Religious Exclusivity: Hindutva ideology often promotes religious and cultural exclusivism, perceiving other religions as threats to Hinduism. Far-right groups may view individuals from different faiths as adversaries and believe that targeting them is a means of protecting their own religious identity.
  • Vigilantism and Religious Assertion: Far-right groups may believe that acts of harassment and violence against individuals of different faiths are a form of religious assertion and defence of their beliefs. They may see these actions as necessary to protect what they perceive as the sanctity of their religion and culture.

In conclusion, the motivations behind the violent acts committed by far-right groups are closely tied to Hindutva ideology, cow protection, and communal tensions. These ideologies may have influenced their decision to target individuals from different faiths, as they perceive them as a challenge to their vision of a Hindu-centric India. Understanding these motivations is crucial for addressing and preventing further incidents of communal violence in the region and promoting religious and communal harmony.

Factors contributing to violence-

  1. Social Factors:
    a. Communal Tensions: Historical tensions between religious communities in the region play a significant role in contributing to the eruption of violence. Past conflicts or grievances often simmer beneath the surface and can resurface when new incidents occur. These unresolved issues create a volatile environment where any provocation can lead to violence. The memory of previous communal clashes may breed mistrust and suspicion among different religious groups, making it easier for extremist elements to exploit these divisions.
    b. Lack of Education: Low levels of education and awareness in certain communities can contribute to prejudices and intolerance. Individuals with limited access to education may lack exposure to diverse perspectives and may be more susceptible to extremist ideologies. Education plays a vital role in promoting tolerance, critical thinking, and interfaith understanding. The absence of quality education can perpetuate stereotypes and biases, making individuals more receptive to extremist propaganda.
  2. Cultural Factors:
    a. Religious Conservatism: The rise in religious conservatism, often amplified by factors like social media and charismatic religious leaders, can fuel extremist ideologies. When individuals become more conservative in their religious beliefs, they may become less tolerant of other faiths. This shift towards religious conservatism can lead to an increasingly polarized society, where adherents of different religions view each other with suspicion and distrust. Extremist groups capitalize on this polarization to advance their agendas.
    b. Cultural Myths: Cultural myths and narratives, frequently propagated by extremist groups, can contribute to the creation and reinforcement of stereotypes and biases. These narratives may dehumanize and demonize minority communities, portraying them as threats to the majority culture or religion. Cultural myths can be particularly insidious as they shape the collective consciousness and can be used to justify acts of violence against perceived enemies.
  1. Historical Context:
    a. Interfaith Conflicts: The region’s history of interfaith conflicts and communal tensions has left lasting scars on communities. Past incidents of violence and unrest may have created deep-seated mistrust and grievances that continue to affect current relations between religious groups. Communities may harbour resentment and fear, making it difficult to bridge divides and promote interfaith harmony.
    b. Lack of Reconciliation: Inadequate reconciliation efforts and a lack of justice for past incidents of violence can create a climate of impunity. When individuals believe they can act without consequences, it emboldens them to engage in further violence. The absence of mechanisms for addressing historical grievances and providing closure can perpetuate a cycle of violence and reinforce extremist ideologies that promote hostility and intolerance.

In addressing and preventing future incidents of communal violence, it is essential to consider these social, cultural, and historical factors. Effective strategies should not only address immediate law enforcement actions but also promote education, interfaith dialogue, and reconciliation efforts to heal past wounds and foster understanding among religious communities.


In conclusion, recent events that have unfolded in various parts of India serve as a stark reminder of the paramount importance of upholding the rule of law and adhering to the constitutional values embedded in our nation’s foundation. It is imperative to address the concerning trend of individuals taking the law into their own hands, as these actions not only undermine the principles that guide our society but also pose a significant threat to communal harmony and religious tolerance.

Taking the law into one’s own hands is a direct violation of the established legal framework that governs our nation. The rule of law is the cornerstone of a democratic society, ensuring that justice is administered fairly and consistently to all citizens, regardless of their background, beliefs, or affiliations. When individuals resort to violence or vigilantism, they bypass this legal framework, which can lead to chaos, anarchy, and the erosion of trust in our justice system.

Furthermore, our Constitution enshrines values of secularism, equality, and religious freedom, emphasizing the protection of the rights and dignity of every citizen. Acts of violence driven by religious or communal motives directly contradict these constitutional principles. It is imperative that we collectively reject and condemn any actions that seek to infringe upon these values.

In times of conflict or tension, it is essential to reiterate that our justice system is well-equipped to address grievances and ensure that justice prevails. Rather than taking the law into one’s own hands, individuals should have faith in the established mechanisms for dispute resolution and legal recourse. These mechanisms are designed to uphold the principles of fairness, justice, and equality for all.

To foster a harmonious and inclusive society, it is our collective responsibility to promote and uphold the rule of law, respect the Constitution, and reject violence as a means of addressing differences or grievances. Only by adhering to these foundational principles can we preserve the essence of our democracy and work towards a more just and tolerant society for all citizens.


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