More than a month after his name surfaced in Haryana's communal violence, the police on Tuesday arrested cow vigilante and Bajrang Dal leader Monu Manesar.
Monu is an accused in the double-murder of two Muslim men from Rajastahn's Bharatpur and has another attempt-to-murder case against him in Haryana.
Monu is the head of Bajrang Dal in Haryana's Manesar district. The Bajrang Dal is the youth wing of the Hindu right-wing organisation Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). The video of his arrest has surfaced in media.
CCTV captures cow vigilante Monu Manesar's arrest by the Haryana Police in Manesar. pic.twitter.com/PTcGnGYFIN— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) September 12, 2023
While Monu's name came up in Nuh violence, he does not have a case against him related to it as he was not present at the scene of violence in Nuh.
Monu's current arrest is related to inflammatory posts on social media that came under the scanner of Haryana Police, according to The Indian Express.
Besides cow vigilantism and the Rajasthan double-murder case, Monu is also known for vigilantism around other Hindutva causes such as 'love jihad'. In the past five years, Monu has became a prominent face of cow vigilantism in Haryana. His rise has been helped by his presence on social media.
Here we explain what we know of Monu Manesar's arrest, who he is, what he is accused of.
Who is Bajrang Dal's Monu Manesar?
Monu Manesar's real name is Mohit Yadav. He is 30-year-old and is a native of Manesar in Haryana.
Monu joined the Bajrang Dal as a co-coordinator in his home district Manesar in 2011 and was a member of the district cow protection task force formed by authorities after Haryana's cow protection law came into force in December 2015.
Monu is now the district president of Bajrang Dal and frequently courts controversy over the actions of his own cow protection group and shares videos of vigilantes chasing, confronting, and nabbing alleged cow smugglers. The videos, mostly live streams, have thousands of views and comments.
Monu has 83,000 followers on Facebook and more than 2 lakh subscribers on YouTube. He received a silver play button from YouTube in October last year as the number of subscribers crossed one lakh.
Monu and his fellow Bajrang Dal operatives apparently also work with Haryana Police. In a post on Twitter dated August 15, 2022, Monu shares photo in which he claims to have caught alleged cow smugglers jointly with Haryana Police. In another post from July, Monu writes that he "saved" cows with the help of Palwal Police.
14,08,22 को @nuhpolice के थाना फिरोजपुर झिरका के साथ मिलकर बजरंग दल मानेसर ने पकड़ी स्कार्पियो गाड़ी 4 गाय बचाई 5 मेवाती गौतस्कर पकड़े साथ में हथियार भी पकड़ा @anilvijminister @mlkhattar @DivyaWrestler @flyingbeast320 @vinod_bansal @NeerajDoneria pic.twitter.com/Diu9SB3qus— Monu Manesar (सनातनी) (@MonuManesar) August 15, 2022
Under the Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act that was implemented in 2015, cow slaughter in Haryana attracted rigorous imprisonment ranging from three years to 10 years. After this law, a number of cow protection groups, including those already present, became visibly active.
There have been allegations that cow protection groups have been targeting Muslims and indulging in high-handedness. Monu has, however, claimed that he has been receiving death threats from suspected smugglers. The Haryana Police in January filed two FIRs on his complaints.
Monu has also been involved in activities against what the Hindu Right calls 'love jihad'. In a video on his Twitter, he claims to have caught a man involved in the act. The man is seen being beaten in public in the video.
देश का बल बजरंगदल 🚩— Monu Manesar (सनातनी) (@MonuManesar) November 22, 2022
फरीदाबाद oyo में जिहाद फैलाता हुआ पकड़ा गया जिहादी एक बच्ची के 35 टुकड़े होने से बचे।
अत्याधिक Retweet 🔁 करें ताकि ऐसी घटनाओं को रोका जा सके 🙏🏻🙏🏻 @team_hyv @beingarun28 pic.twitter.com/s4ygTMx8EE
What do we know of Monu Manesar's arrest?
The Haryana Police has not formally commented on the arrest of Monu Manesar, but his parent organisation VHP has confirmed he has been picked up.
An office-bearer of VHP told PTI that Monu was picked by the police in Manesar.
The Indian Express reported that the arrest is not related to the Rajasthan murders or Nuh violence, but related to inflammatory social media posts.
The Express reported that Monu was arrested for making "objectionable" social media post under a false identity.
"After the violence on July 31, Nuh police had been regularly scanning social media posts for objectionable content. In one such case, a person was found putting up a series of objectionable posts. Tracing those posts, raids were conducted at certain locations and the person was apprehended. He was found to be Monu Manesar who was using a fictitious name to upload objectionable posts," sources are quoted as saying by The Express.
Monu Manesar and Rajasthan double-murder
Monu Manesar is among the five named in the FIR in the deaths of Nasir and Junaid, natives of Ghatmika village in Rajasthan's Bharatpur. The charred remains of the two were found in Haryana's Bhiwani on Thursday.
Nasir and Junaid are the latest Muslim men from Rajasthan to have been allegedly killed in cow vigilantism. Earlier, Pehlu Khan, Rakbar Khan, and Ummar Mohammad were allegedly lynched during 2017-18.
The families of Nasir and Junaid of Ghatmika village of Rajasthan's Bharatpur lodged a complaint with the police over their disappearance. A day after, the charred remains of Nasir and Junaid were found in Haryana's Bhiwani. The families allege they were abducted and burnt to death by Manesar and fellow vigilantes.
Thirty-one-year-old Mohammad Jabir, a relative of both Junaid and Nasir, held Monu Manesar, one of the five accused named in the FIR, as being responsible for the deaths of Junaid and Nasir.
He said, “Why are the police not arresting the accused? If Monu Manesar, a member of Bajrang Dal, is named in the FIR, why are the police not arresting him?”
Junaid's relative Ismail said the family learnt from the police in Ferozpur Jhirka in Haryana’s Nuh district about the abduction. Later the charred remains were found in Bhiwani’s Loharu area.
“We want justice. My cousin Junaid and his friend were abducted and burnt alive. The guilty should be given stringent punishment,” said Ismail, a 62-year-old resident of Ghatmika.
Besides Monu, the others accused in the case are named Anil, Shrikant, Rinku Saini, and Lokesh Singla. All are said to belong to Bajrang Dal.
Monu Manesar and Nuh violence
Monu Manesar's name surfaced in Nuh violence but he does not have a case related to it.
Monu's name surfaced over a video that he posted in the run-up to the violence. There were also rumours of his presence at the procession, which is said to have trigerred violence and stoked tensions, but it was later learnt that he was not present in the violence.
On July 31, the VHP carried out a Hindu religious procession in Haryana's Nuh that came under attack by a mob armed with sticks, stones, and firearms. Five people, including two Home Guards personnel, were killed in the attack. The violence later spilled into neighbouring Gurugram where a mosque and shops were attacked in which a Muslim cleric was killed.
Before the procession, Monu had shared a video on WhatsApp saying "I will be in the yatra in person and my whole team will also be present" but he did not show up at the yatra, reported The Express.
A police complaint was filed against him in a case related to Nuh violence but it was not converted into FIR.
Previous allegations on Monu Manesar
Earlier, the family of a 22-year-old named Varis had accused cow vigilantes, including Monu, of thrashing him to death after branding him a cow smuggler in Nuh district of Haryana, though police had said he died in a road accident.
The police said a Santro car with Varis and two others, Shokeen and Nafis, had rammed into a tempo near Khori Kalan village on Tauru-Bhiwadi road on Saturday.
Monu had claimed that they had rescued a cow from the car and taken the injured to hospital.
“I went live on Facebook and also asked the name of one of the injured, but we did not hurt any of them,” he had said.
The Gurugram police in Haryana also conducted raids to nab him in a case of murder attempt which was registered against him on February 7 at Pataudi police station, said officials.
According to police, a brawl broke out between two groups in Pataudi's Baba Shah Mohalla when Monu Manesar was there along with his team.
A complaint was filed by Mubin Khan, a resident of the same locality, who said that his son Mohin was shot at during firing in two groups and received a bullet injury.
Following the complaint of Mubin Khan, an FIR was registered under Section 307 (attempt to murder) against Monu and others at the Pataudi police station.
“In the case of murder attempt, Monu Manesar is wanted and we are also conducting raids to nab him”, said Manbir Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Manesar.
In the Rajasthan lynchings case, Rajasthan police has launched a manhunt for him.
In a video message, Monu denied his involvement in the deaths of Nasir and Junair case and claimed he was at a hotel at the time of the incident. He and his supporters have also shared CCTV footage from the hotel on social media.
गोपालगढ़ थाना क्षेत्र में जो घटना हुई मैं और मेरे साथी गुरुग्राम के एक निजी होटल में रुके 14 से 15 दोपहर तक हमारा इस घटना से कोई सम्भन्ध नहीं है @police_haryana @PoliceRajasthan pic.twitter.com/KL9sHYl2gp— Monu Manesar (सनातनी) (@MonuManesar) February 17, 2023
(With PTI inputs)