A cow vigilante on the run after he was accused of inciting deadly communal violence in India’s northern Haryana state has been arrested.
Mohit Yadav, better known by his alias Monu Manesar, was arrested for allegedly uploading “objectionable and inflammatory” posts under a fictitious name on social media after the violence, Indian media reports said on Tuesday.
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The violence in Nuh, Haryana’s only Muslim-majority district about 100km (62 miles) from New Delhi, started on July 31 after far-right Hindu groups held a religious procession through the district.
Two days before the procession, Manesar, who heads the local cow protection unit of the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of Vishva Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP), released a Facebook video saying he would attend the procession as he exhorted other Hindus to join him.
Nuh residents said the video angered them since Manesar, 28, is among 21 people named in a first information report (FIR) for lynching two Muslim men in February this year.
The charred remains of Junaid Khan, 35, and Nasir Hussain, 27, who were cousins from neighbouring Rajasthan state, were found in a car in Haryana’s Bhiwani district on February 16.
The cow is considered sacred by a section of mainly privileged caste Hindus and many states have banned its sale and consumption.
Dozens of Muslims have been attacked and lynched in the past decade by self-appointed cow vigilantes across India over allegations of cow slaughter.
According to media reports, Manesar is likely to be handed to the Rajasthan police in connection with the February lynchings.
Police and Hindu groups say their procession in Nuh was attacked by Muslim residents, who dismiss the allegation and say the violence was planned.
At least six people, including two Bajrang Dal members and two police guards, were killed and some vehicles were torched in the violence, which soon spread to Gurgaon on the outskirts of New Delhi, where a mosque was burned and its imam killed by a Hindu mob.
In response to the violence, more than 1,000 properties – mostly belonging to Muslims – were bulldozed in Nuh by Haryana’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, forcing an Indian court to ask if it was an “exercise of ethnic cleansing”.