Haryana violence: Facing threats, Muslim migrant workers leave city en masse
Hundreds of Muslim migrant workers have left Gurugram in India this week following communal clashes between a group of young men and workers from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The violence has spread to other areas, resulting in six deaths and numerous arrests. Muslim workers have been targeted and threatened, causing many to flee the city or seek shelter with relatives. Shops, factories, and residential complexes have been affected by the absence of Muslim workers. The situation has prompted calls for immediate action from authorities to maintain law and order.
On Thursday, 35-year-old Shamim Hussain, a migrant worker from Malda in West Bengal, was asked by his landlord to pack his bags and leave his rented room in Badshahpur. Hussain phoned his wife, who was working as a house help in an apartment in a nearby residential complex, and asked her to return immediately.
“I asked her collect her salary from her employer; we plan to never return to this city. People have been threatening us since the past two days. We had to stop sending our children to play in the open fearing attacks,” he said, standing next to his packed belongings. Not long after, a relative from Delhi arrived to take them with him.
Hussain is among hundreds of Muslim migrant workers who have left the city this week after communal clashes erupted between a group of young men and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) workers during a religious procession in Nuh on Monday.
According to the Haryana government, six people have been killed so far in the violence, while 116 people have been arrested, 90 detained, and 44 FIRs registered in connection with the clashes that has spread to Gurugram, Rajasthan’s Bhiwani, and even Delhi.
Many migrants have taken shelter at their relatives’ places while some have left the city. They alleged that they are being targeted as they are Muslims and are being held responsible for the communal clash that was reported from Nuh on Monday.
On Thursday, many residents said their Muslim domestic helps, car cleaners, cooks, security guards and drivers did not report to work after they were allegedly threatened by locals to leave the area. Situation was no different at some factories, salons, and even shops at malls, said district officials.
The violence affected areas in the city are Tigra, Wazirabad, Tigaon, Badshahpur, Sector 70A, Sector 57, Sector 56, Dundahera, Palam Vihar, Manesar, Teekli, Kasan, IMT and Ghata village from where migrant workers have left.
Abdul Majid, a contractor who set up hutments in Sector 70, said the land belonged to a local who has asked him to get the area vacated.
“Many men are making the rounds to check whether people have left or are still planning to stay back. If the area is not cleared within two days, locals will take action against the landlord, so he is fearing for his own and his family’s safety. The ration shop has also been shut and directions have been given to the local shopkeepers not to allow us inside,” said Majid, who has been living in the area for four years and got the hutments vacated on Thursday. He said he will leave in a day or two.
Jabbar Ali, a resident of Sector 70A slums, said a group of 20 locals from Palda village threatened to set their huts on fire if they didn’t leave the area by Friday. “What about our safety in a city where we have worked for so many years? There is no help from the administration or police. People are misbehaving with us; shopkeepers have stopped giving us rations and random people are visiting us at night and assaulting us. It is difficult to survive with this kind of humiliation,” he said while packing his bags.
Mina Khatun, a native of Malda in West Bengal, said she left work as there was no security arrangement for them in the area. “I fear that locals will assault me if they find me walking towards the condominium. The employer has refused to help me in case of any violence. Why should we risk our lives staying here? It’s better we leave and find work elsewhere,” she said.
Hasina Begum, another native of West Bengal who works in five apartments in Sector 48, said she has taken advance from her employer to leave for her relative’s place. “I will return only after the situation gets normal. My children are scared and we were unable to sleep for the past two nights fearing attacks. The landlord has asked us to leave,” she said.
Madhuri Ketan, a native of Bihar, who has been in the city for the past eight years said that she has been living on rent in Sector 57 but never faced any issue. “People are asking me whether I am Muslim or Hindu and based on my religion I will be allowed to stay here. I was stopped on Wednesday by four men while I was returning from work and they threatened me that if they again see me here, they will kill me on the spot,” she said.
Ajay Sharma, member of Tulip Ivory RWA in Sector 70, said most of the helps and car cleaners in their society have left work and returned to their villages. “The situation is grim. The helps have stopped coming and have informed all employers that they are leaving the city. We have sought help from the administration,” he said.
Kiran Kapoor, RWA president of Tulip Orange in Sector 70, said the operations of the society has taken a toll as housekeeping staff have left work. “They are afraid to work and live in the city. There is no one to clean the towers and the premises. The basements and common areas are not cleaned since the past two days,” she said.
At Paras Irene in Sector 70 A, around 30 people had to be hired by the RWA on Thursday as an emergency measure after most of the workers quit. “No maintenance work could be carried out on Wednesday and even today work was affected. We had to hire fresh hands for maintenance work,” said Jaswant Rao, president, Paras Irene RWA.
The operation of internal water supply system, electricity system, sewage treatment plant and all others works are dependent on these maintenance workers.
A resident said that on normal days these workers are invisible but now when they were absent their importance had come to be realised. “The authorities must take immediate measures and ensure law and order is maintained. If the acts of violence continue not only domestic workers but construction workers and those taking up allied trades would also leave the city,” said Rajender Saroha, a senior trade union leader, who said that authorities must take strict action.
The district administration said that they had called a meeting of several RWAs on Wednesday and have reassured the residents that steps are being taken to prevent sporadic acts of violence.
Gurugram deputy commissioner (DC) Nishant Kumar Yadav on Thursday said that they have sent seven subdivisional magistrates to the field and have asked them to meet with migrants. “We have also asked landlords and locals not to threaten labourers and helps, else strict action will be taken against them. We have appealed to migrants to call on 112 or mobile numbers of SDMs that have been circulated in their areas in case of emergency or any other help,” he said.
Yadav said the situation will get better in a day or two. “We held a meeting with the Muslim community as well and have assured them adequate security at all mosques so that Friday namaz can be performed peacefully,” he said.
Gurugram police commissioner Kala Ramachandran said they have received a complaint from Palda village regarding an assault on August 1 and 100 policemen have been deployed to maintain law and order in the area. “We are keeping a close watch on all activities taking place across the city. We have directed all the station house officers to take strict action against anyone resorting to violence or threat,” she said.
Ramachandran said on Tuesday around 20-25 persons from Palda village 70 went to slums threatened people to leave. “ Although no complaint was received in this regard, the police came to know from one of the residents in a nearby society and immediately deployed nearly 100 men to guard the slum that has about around 700 to 800 hutments. No one has left from there,” she said.
One case was registered at Badshahpur police station in connection to the assault case where a man was assaulted by 4-5 men while he was returning from a society after work. Another case was registered for setting a slum on fire in the same area on Tuesday, said police.