Right-wing activist accused of stoking Nuh violence arrested
Cow vigilante Bittu Bajrangi has been arrested in connection with the communal violence in Nuh and Gurugram districts in India. He is accused of rioting, assault, brandishing weapons, and dacoity. Bajrangi is the first prominent cow vigilante to be arrested in the case, which resulted in six deaths and 88 injuries.
The Nuh police on Tuesday arrested cow vigilante Raj Kumar, better known as Bittu Bajrangi, from his home in Faridabad on charges of rioting, assault, brandishing weapons and dacoity in connection with the communal violence between Muslim and Hindu groups that lashed the Nuh and Gurugram districts two weeks ago.
Bajrangi — the 35-year-oldin-charge of Bajrang Force, a Hindu religious outfit — was arrested after a brief chase on foot through the lanes of Faridabad on Tuesday afternoon. Visuals showed a large posse of policemen in plainclothes, armed with sticks and a few guns, briefly chasing the cow vigilante, who is also wanted in another case in Faridabad.
Bajrangi — who is one of the cow vigilantes wanted in connection with the communal clashes along with Mohit Yadav or Monu Manesar — was booked under sections 148 ( rioting, being armed with a deadly weapon or with anything which, used as a weapon of offence), 149 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public function), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant), 397 (robbery, or dacoity, with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt), 395 (dacoity), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections of the arms act at Sadar Nuh police station on Tuesday, said Usha Kundu, additional superintendent of police, Nuh.
Monu Manesar is yet to be arrested.
Kundu said Bajrangi was identified from evidence and videos collected by the police to identify the suspects. “He was questioned and based on his statement and evidence, he was arrested. He will be produced before the court on Wednesday,” she said.
Bajrangi and Manesar were among those accused of stoking communal tensions in the Muslim-majority district of Nuh ahead of a yatra by right-wing groups. Both men had released videos before the event on July 31 with derogatory and inflammatory comments. Violence broke out around 2pm on July 31 when Muslim groups attacked the procession, and quickly spread to the neighbouring district of Gurugram, stopping only at the fringes of the national capital. Six people died and 88 others were injured. Police have so far arrested 230people but Bajrangi is the first prominent cow vigilante to be held in the case.
Police clarified that he was not arrested in connection with the controversial video clips, but another incident where he allegedly snatched weapons from the police during the clashes. On August 4, Faridabad Police arrested Bajrangi for his alleged involvement in releasing provocative videos, but granted him bail the same day. The charges levelled against him on Tuesday carry a maximum punishment of 10 years.
“On July 31, Bajrangi, along with 20 more, were brandishing weapons including swords, despite permission being denied. I had taken the weapons from them before Nalhar temple but the group of nearly 20 people intercepted my vehicle and snatched them back. They were not identified but we had formed teams, and based on videos, they were identified and booked on Monday,” she said, adding that he was arrested by the crime investigation agency (CIA) in Tauru.
Kundu said the Nuh Police has arrested 230 people and registered 59 cases in connection with the violence. The Gurugram Police arrested 79 people and registered 59 cases in connection with the riots. More cases are likely to be registered against him, said police.
Police officers said they suspected the videos played a role in stoking tensions in the area, where Muslim residents pelted stones, vandalised and torched private and police vehicles, and allegedly surrounded a local temple where several Hindus, police personnel and media professionals took shelter. With several members of the procession also brandinging arms, the standoff turned into a communal brawl that raged for two days.