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After Nuh Violence, Farmers and Khap Panchayats in Mewat Stand Up Against Hate

Since July 31, farmers have held three major meetings in the region to counter the communal build-up in Haryana. Besides, over 20 Khap panchayat meetings have been held since anti-Muslim violence rocked Nuh and Gurugram.
Hisar Mahapanchayat. Photo: Special arrangement

New Delhi: Thousands of farmers converged at a Mahapanchayat held in Rajasthan’s Alwar on Saturday, August 26, vowing to counter the politics of hatred in the wake of the recent violence that rocked Nuh in Haryana.

Since July 31 when Nuh, Gurugram, and adjoining areas of Haryana witnessed anti-Muslim violence during a rally taken out by Hindutva groups, farmers’ groups have held three major meetings in Jind, Hisar, and Mewat to counter the communal build-up in the state. Besides, nearly two dozen local Khap panchayat meetings have been held across the Mewat region, which spans both Haryana and neighbouring Rajasthan.

For instance, a farmers’ meeting on August 9 at a grain market in Hisar’s Bass village, which was originally convened to discuss farmers’ issues, was renamed Bhaichara Sammelan (a meeting to spread brotherhood) to speak out against Nuh and Gurugram violence and subsequent hate speeches by Hindutva groups calling for the boycott of Muslims. Since farmers’ pushback against the hate, calls for such a boycott by Hindutva groups have largely stopped from Haryana. 

It is the impact of the farmers’ warning that further bloodshed in Haryana has been averted,” Shamsher Singh More, a farmers’ leader, told The Wire. “Mewatis are our brothers. They stood with us during the farmers’ protest and organised langars. Meanwhile, the BJP supporters attacked and defamed us, by calling us terrorists. We are not returning any favour but we are standing with our brothers against miscreants who are trying to create disharmony in the country.”

More goes on to add that people have “united to stop polarisation” before the upcoming state and parliamentary elections. It may be recalled that besides farmers, the long-drawn wrestlers’ protest also shed light on the communal politics of the BJP in addition to wrestlers’ demand for action against BJP MP and former chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

“The focus of the state should be on education and farmers’ issues instead of religious disputes,” he added.

Another farmers’ leader Suresh Kouth, who emerged as a prominent face during the protest against the three contentious farm laws, said such meetings are the need of the hour.  “We want to save our state. We don’t want disharmony in Haryana. We don’t want riots,” Kouth told The Wire, questioning inaction against hate-mongers such as Monu Manesar, who is also accused of murdering two Muslim men. 

Farmers becoming overtly religious harms the interests of people at large and disturbs communal harmony, said another farmers’ leader Choudhary Chotu Ram. “As Hindus, we are more in number and it is our duty to protect those who are fewer in numbers from any kind of attack. Before anyone points a finger at them, they’ll have to face us,” he added.

The Haryana government denied permission to Hindutva groups to hold another ‘Shobha Yatra’ in Nuh on Monday, August 28 – akin to the one held on July 31 which saw widespread violence. Although Hindutva groups vowed to take out a rally on Monday despite being denied permission, police barred them from doing so. Instead, the police allowed groups of 10-20 people to perform Jalabhishek at different temples.

A large posse of policemen was deployed in Nuh and Gurugram on Monday anticipating violence. Farmers had earlier warned of a tractor rally if the Haryana government were to permit any rally by Hindutva groups. They have been blaming the BJP governments in Haryana and at the Centre for giving patronage to the Hindutva groups to stoke religious hatred in Mewat. 

Journalist Mandeep Punia – who has been covering farmers’ meetings and Khap panchayats closely – said that it is due to such coming together of forces against Hindutva groups, the situation has not become worse in the Mewat region. He said since Khaps dominate politics in Haryana, their influence is seen in averting any further crisis. 

Bhupinder Chaudhary, the Rashtriya Lok Dal spokesperson who attended some of these meetings, told The Wire that at the moment, what matters more than the larger political impact of these meetings is the message of solidarity.

“When a dominant community rejects hate politics, it sends a message to all other communities. To the Muslims, the message is that they are not alone and everybody is not on the other side. This reassurance is important.”

Incidentally, BJP’s alliance partner and deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala had said that the violence in Nuh could have been averted had the organisers shared correct information with the administration. 

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