Wanted cow vigilante Monu Manesar caught
Over the last eight years, Yadav has collected a rap sheet of three FIRs, including sections of attempt to murder and criminal intimidation. But he had never been arrested until Tuesday
Cow vigilante and Bajrang Dal functionary Mohit Yadav, also known as Monu Manesar, was on Tuesday arrested from Manesar in Haryana, ending an eight-month-long hunt for a man first sought for the murders of two men from Rajasthan in February, and then for allegedly making remarks that were among the triggers for the communal clashes in Nuh on July 31.
Manesar was sent to judicial custody for 14 days by a court in Haryana’s Nuh, and the Rajasthan police, probing the February murders, secured his custody after obtaining a transit remand from a court in Nuh, officers aware of the matter said. Meanwhile, police have increased security in and around Manesar region, even as local officials said there may be a mahapanchayat in the area on Wednesday protesting the cow vigilante’s arrest.
Police said that a pistol, three live bullets and a mobile phone were seized from Yadav, who is more popularly known by the nom de guerre that is a reference to his home town, Manesar.
Yadav first shot into the limelight when he was named among the prime accused in the murder of traders Junaid and Nasir, who were cousins. The two were found in a burnt vehicle in Loharu in Bhiwani on February 16, after allegedly being abducted and beaten, before their murder.
Still to be detained over the allegations, Yadav then posted a video laced with what many saw as communal incitement ahead of the July 31 Brajmandal Jalabhishek Yatra in Nuh. Clashes during the event led to the deaths of six people over three days, when the violence spilled over to neighbouring Gurugram.
On Tuesday, Yadav was at a market in Manesar Sector 1 when plainclothes police nabbed him and took him away. Within a few hours after his arrest, Yadav was handed over to the Rajasthan Police as a court in Nuh granted his custody over the murders in February.
The charred remains of Junaid and Nasir were recovered on the morning of February 16. It was during the investigation of this case that Yadav’s suspected involvement surfaced, after which he was continuously on the run.
Police officers privy to the development said that the Rajasthan Police got in touch with the Haryana Police and reached Nuh with a warrant against Yadav to take him to Bharatpur.
Yadav is an active gau rakshak (cow protector), and has been for years putting his gang’s activities on his YouTube page, called “Monu Manesar Bajrang Dal”, which has 212,000 subscribers and hundreds of videos of his gang purportedly chasing down those smuggling cows for its meat. Most videos detail high-speed chases; some show a gunfight; some show him and his men standing victoriously next to a group of men they have apprehended. The first such video is dated January 18, 2017.
Over the last eight years, Yadav has collected a rap sheet of three FIRs, including sections of attempt to murder and criminal intimidation. But he had never been arrested until Tuesday.
In the days since the February incident, Yadav denied any involvement but went underground.
Usha Kundu, additional superintendent of police, Nuh, said that Yadav was also booked in an FIR registered under several sections of Indian Penal Code at Cyber police station on August 26 after a provocative video of him surfaced on social media.
“Parinam ki hum chinta nahi karte… Waar ek hi hoga par akhir hoga… (We don’t care about the results… There will be only one attack and it will be the last one…),” the ASP said, quoting Monu Manesar’s statement in the purported video he uploaded on social media, on the basis of which he was booked.
She said it was uploaded just before the attempt by the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal to forcefully take out the yatra once again on August 28 for which no permission was given and the internet services had to be snapped in Nuh as precautionary measure. Before the earlier yatra on July 31, Yadav had released a video urging people to take part in it on a large scale, and that he would come to Nuh to participate – a claim that triggered discontent in the Muslim community.
“We informed Rajasthan police too about the arrest after which their team reached Nuh and took him on transit remand granted by a court here,” she said adding that a regular pistol, three live cartridges and a mobile phone was also seized from his possession after the arrest.
Yadav’s arrest by the Haryana Police came after Congress MLA Mamman Khan skipped his second consecutive appearance before SIT in Nuh on Saturday.
On August 29, Haryana home minister Anil Vij had said that the role of Khan, who represents the Ferozepur Jhirka assembly seat in Nuh, was being probed for the communal violence since he had met people on July 28, 29 and 30 at places where incidents took place.
A Rajasthan police team from Deeg headed by Himmat Singh, the additional superintendent of police, returned to Bharatpur with Yadav in the evening.