Haryana riot: Mob shoots imam dead and burns mosque after three killed in north India

Curfew is imposed in city of Gurugram as sectarian violence spreads

Police officers stand guard outside a mosque after violent communal clashes in Gurugram, near New Dehli. AFP
Powered by automated translation

A mosque was torched and a Muslim cleric was shot dead by a Hindu mob in Gurugram near New Delhi on Tuesday, hours after three people were killed and 20 people injured in sectarian violence in the northern Indian state of Haryana.

The mosque, Anjuman Jama Masjid, was set on fire in the early hours after a group of 70-80 people attacked it and killed its imam in the newly developed northern city, which has a population of about 1.3 million.

Police commissioner Kala Ramachandran said another person was also injured in the attack in the city's sector 57 at around 12.10am. Fire crews put out the blaze.

“The attackers have been identified by the police and, following raids conducted throughout the night, several have been rounded up,” she added.

The attack in Gurugram came hours after three people including two home guards – volunteer police officers – were killed and 20 injured when Muslims tried to stop a Hindu procession in Haryana’s Nuh district, triggering clashes between the two groups.

The confrontation started on Monday in the Muslim-dominated district, about 85km from Delhi, during a procession by the Vishva Hindu Parishad – an ultra-right-wing Hindu group.

Rioters threw stones and dozens of cars were set on fire before the violence spiralled, spreading to Gurugram, Faridabad and Sohna districts.

Authorities have imposed a curfew and suspended the internet until August 2 citing “intense communal tensions”.

Schools and colleges have been shut for a day.

The violence reportedly erupted after rumours spread that Monu Manesar, a self-styled Hindu cow-protection activist who is on the run after allegedly killing two Muslim men in February, would join the procession in Nuh district.

More than 80 motorcycles and cars were stopped from reaching a temple after members of the Hindu-right wing group allegedly chanted slogans, triggering stone pelting from the other group.

The violence continued for three hours before police managed to disperse the crowd.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar appealed for peace in the state, ruled by his Bharatiya Janata Party.

“Today's incident is unfortunate; I appeal to all the people to maintain peace in the state. The guilty will not be spared at any cost, the strictest action will be taken against them,” Mr Khattar said.

Despite skyscrapers, top-notch offices and world-class infrastructure, Gurguram has been divided for the past few years.

Hindu right-wing groups have disrupted prayers and demanded the banning of Friday prayers in open public spaces in the city since 2018.

A mob of more than 200 people barged into a mosque and vandalised the religious site last October.

On Monday morning, a 33-year-old constable with Railway Protection Force killed four people including his colleague and three Muslim passengers in another suspected hate crime.

Chetan Singh fired between 12 and 20 bullets from his automatic rifle at passengers on board the Jaipur-Mumbai Central Express train.

He was deployed to the train to protect passenger safety. However, for 40 minutes, Singh strutted through five carriages carrying his weapon before gunning down Abdul Qadirbhai Mohammed Hussain Bhanpurwala, 48, Akhtar Abbas Ali, 48, and Sadar Mohammed Hussain.

In a video posted on social media, Singh was seen justifying the killings and repeating slogans against Pakistan and in support of “Modi and Yogi”, the latter referring to the BJP Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Yogi Adityanath.

Updated: August 02, 2023, 6:03 AM