Nuh violence: Panchayat heads issue letters 'banning' Muslim traders

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Chandigarh: Letters purportedly written by some panchayat heads in Haryana's Mahendergarh, Rewari and Jhajjar districts "banning" Muslim traders from their villages have surfaced online, amid communal tension in parts of the state.

The almost identical letters, supposedly written by some sarpanches in these districts in recent days cite the violence in Nuh district on July 31, when mobs attacked a Vishva Hindu Parishad procession.

Five people, including two home guards, were killed in Nuh and a cleric died in an attack on a mosque in adjoining Gurugram as the violence spilled over.

District authorities said they have taken note of the letters online and are investigating the matter.

The purported letters by sarpaches of some villages said the panchayats have decided not to give "permission" to the Muslim community and miscreants to conduct any business. It specifies hawkers, cattle traders and those seeking alms.

However, when contacted, many sarpanches in Mahendergarh and Rewari denied having issued any such letters making a reference to a particular community.

Mahendergarh Deputy Commissioner Monika Gupta said no such letters have been submitted before the government officials.

"Social media is perhaps claiming that these have been submitted (by the village sarpanches) to their respective sub-divisional magistrates. However, no such matter has reached before SDMs till date as far as we know. So, nothing has been submitted to any administrative officer by any sarpanch," Gupta told PTI over phone.

"However, what is going on in the media, we have taken suo motu cognisance of that and are inquiring into the matter," she added.

Gupta said they have sought reports from field officers in this regard.

Ved Prakash, the sarpanch of Gomla village in Kanina block of Mahendergarh district, said, "No letter has been issued from our side to the SDM with the contents as is being claimed".

He said what he had "written was a different matter. It does not mention name of any particular community". However, he did not elaborate.

Another sarpanch from Mahendergarh district, however, said they are only verifying identity credentials of strangers, which he called was a general exercise having nothing to do with any community.

Chimnawas village Sarpanch in Rewari Narender Yadav said, "No such letter has been issued from my side as is being claimed."

However, Vikas, the sarpanch of Saidpur in Mahendergarh said he had issued a letter but it was not forwarded to the SDM, nor was any resolution passed by the village. However, he did not talk about the contents of the letter.

"The atmosphere in the village, which has a population of 3,500, was surcharged after the Nuh incident and any untoward incident could have happened with any outsider," Vikas said.

When asked whether the letter had any reference to a particular community, he said, "We are not against any community. But the kind of incident which took place in Nuh, tempers ran very high and the letter was issued so that situation does not flare up."

He said there is no Muslim population in his village, though members from the community come for jobs.

Jhajjar Deputy Commissioner, Capt Shakti Singh, when asked about the letters going viral on social media, said some mischievous elements might have used the letter head of any panchayat and circulated that. He said they are investigating it.

Singh, however, said no such letter has been submitted to officials.

He said no gram panchayat or anybody else will be allowed to do anything which is unconstitutional or illegal.

Meanwhile, a total of 57 FIRs have been registered in connection with the Nuh violence and 188 people arrested so far, according to officials. They said an was FIR also lodged against 11 people for spreading rumours on social media on the violence.

Opposition parties in Haryana have alleged that the violence in Nuh was the result of the "failure" of the BJP-JJP government.