Gurugram/Chandigarh: Two home guards were killed and at least 15 others, including several policemen, were injured Monday as a mob in Haryana’s Nuh district tried to stop a Vishva Hindu Parishad procession, pelting stones and setting cars on fire, officials said.
The Union Home Ministry said it is dispatching 15 additional companies of central forces to Haryana, as violence also erupted in Sohna in neighbouring Gurugram district, adjacent to Delhi.
As news of the violence in Muslim-dominated Nuh spread, mobs in Sohna set ablaze four vehicles and a shop, apparently belonging to people from that community. Protesters there blocked a road for hours.
About 2,500 men, women and children who had taken shelter at a Shiv temple in Nuh were evacuated by police, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said.
Prohibitory orders banning assembly of people were clamped in Nuh and Gurugram districts. Mobile internet services were suspended in Nuh and Faridabad up to Wednesday.
Educational institutes were ordered closed Tuesday in Faridabad and Palwal districts as a precautionary measure.
Gurugram Police Commissioner Kala Ramachandran said two home guards, attached with the district, were killed in the violence in adjoining Nuh. About 10 police personnel injured in Nuh violence, the official said.
Another police officer confirmed that one of the home guards, identified as Neeraj, died due to a gunshot wound.
Eight of the injured police personnel were taken to Gurugram’s Medanta Hospital, he said. Among the injured Hodal Deputy Superintendent of Police Sajjan Singh was shot in the head and an inspector in the stomach.
Police said the vehicles set ablaze were part of the procession, or belonged to them. A video clip showed at least four cars on fire. Another purported video showed two damaged police cars. The clip contained sound of gunfire.
Police lobbed teargas shells in an attempt to disperse the mobs.
Suspending mobile internet services in Nuh, the Haryana government said there was “intense communal tension” in the area.
According to police, VHP’s ‘Brij Mandal Jalabhishek Yatra’ was stopped by a group of young men near Nuh’s Khedla Mod and stones pelted at the procession. Cars were then set ablaze.
People in the procession also hurled stones back at the youths who had stopped them, reports said.
Later, many took refuge in a temple as police tried to evacuate them to safety.
The yatra was flagged off from Gurugram’s Civil Lines by BJP district president Gargi Kakkar. A police contingent was deployed with the procession.
According to some claims, the trigger for the clash was an objectionable video posted on social media by a Bajrang Dal activist in Ballabhgarh.
There were also reports that Monu Manesar, a cow vigilante booked earlier for the murder of two Muslim men whose charred bodies were found in Bhiwani district in February, was supposed to join the procession.
The vigilante, however, told PTI that he did not participate on the advice of the VHP, which feared that his presence would create tension. There were also threats on Twitter daring him to come to Nuh.
State home minister Anil Vij said in the evening that three companies of central forces have already reached.
According to the Union Home Ministry, the Centre is making available 15 additional companies were being made available to the state.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar appealed for calm in Nuh, invoking the slogan “Haryana Ek Haryanvi Ek” (Haryanvis are one).
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala called it a Black Day for Haryana, blaming the Khattar government for the failure of law and order.
Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda asked people to maintain peace and brotherhood. Nuh MLA Aftab Ahmed and former legislator MLA Zakir Hussain also issued similar appeals.
“Our first priority is to bring the situation under control. We are appealing to all to maintain peace,” he said. He told reporters it will be determined later who was responsible for the violence.