Gurugram, August 1: Thirty-year-old Mohit Yadav alias Monu Manesar, the leader of a cow vigilante group in Mewat, is in spotlight after the communal violence that erupted in Haryana's Nuh and Gurugram districts on Monday. Rumours about his presence at the religious procession taken out on Monday by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Nuh, during which the clashes broke, fuelled the violence.
Monu Manesar, an accused in the murder of two alleged cow smugglers in February, has been leading the Bajrang Dal’s campaign against cattle smugglers in Haryana and Rajasthan. He also participates actively in efforts against "love jihad", a term coined by the rightwing to describe the "forcible conversion" of Hindu women by Muslim men.
He gained notoriety in 2019 when he was shot at while pursuing alleged cattle smugglers. Monu Manesar was also associated with a district cow protection task team that the Haryana government established after a cow protection law was passed in 2015.
Tens of thousands of people follow him on Facebook and YouTube, where he routinely post pictures of himself showing off his vehicles and weaponry. Four people, including two home guards, a civilian and an imam, were killed and several police personnel were injured in the Nuh clashes. Neighbouring Gurugram saw an overnight mosque fire as a result of the unrest and tense atmosphere in the area.
Recently, Monu Manesar allegedly posted a video on social media in which he declared his intention to attend the Nuh religious procession and urged his followers to attend it in large numbers. Later, he allegedly received a social media warning to stay away.
Monu Manesar reportedly decided to stay away from the procession on the advice of the VHP, which feared that his presence would create tension. He reportedly holds a diploma from a polytechnic school. He joined the Bajrang Dal while still in college.
Despite the serious accusations levelled against him, Monu Manesar has a stronghold in several districts of Haryana. A Hindu mahapanchayat was held earlier this year in Manesar to show support for him, highlighting the strong support that he enjoys in some sections of society.