Mustafa Badaf, a businessman who had witnessed the violence unfold on the street outside his home office in Nuh city in Haryana, said, “Hum hil chuke hain.” (We are shaken).
The communal violence that erupted in Nuh on 31 July claimed six lives and displaced many living in the region famous for its Muslim dairy farmers who have called it home for centuries.
When I visited Nuh on 1 August, the violence had spread to other parts of Haryana—Gurgaon, Sohna and Palwal. Long stretches of empty roads were deserted. The police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) soldiers, dressed in blue fatigues, were deployed every few kilometres.
We could see burnt vehicles from Badaf’s terrace in one corner of the bus depot. People wandered around looking lost.
Two brothers, Manish Sharma and Mohit Sharma, who owned a clothing store in Nuh City, stood with the mosque's imam outside Badaf’s home.
When Badaf asked me to go with the brother to see their burnt-out shop, the imam said, “Madam, show all sides of the story.”
Pointing to Manish, he said, “Their shop was burnt, but opposite to that, a Muslim’s shop was also burnt.”
When we left, Manish started saying how the “Muslims had instigated the violence and burnt his shop after vandalising it.”
I kept asking questions about Monu Manesar, a Hindu man who has terrorised Muslims in the name of cow protection in Haryana’s Mewat region bordering Rajasthan and was accused of lynching two Muslim men earlier this year.
His video about attending a religious procession (the Braj Mandal Yatra)—some believe—angered Muslims and sparked the violence. He refuted the allegation, saying he never spoke against any particular community and did not attend the rally.
No Hindu I met said a word against Manesar.
A young man on a bike stopped where a few Hindu men stood and said, “Hathiyar rakh lo ab”. (Keep weapons).
They were taking rounds in the Hindu part of a Nuh City colony where Hindus and Muslims live.
I sensed hostility from some of the Hindu men I met. They told me not to go into a Muslim colony opposite the bus depot in Nuh City and to visit the Nalhar Shiv Temple, where the procession started.
The villages where the police had picked up Muslim men were utterly devastated. People were crying. In some houses, widows living with their sons had no support.
A policeman named Farooque, who requested his full name not appear, was on the verge of tears as he told me his brother, who was in his mid-twenties and recently returned from Hajj, was picked up.
“I have no words at the moment. My brother was sleeping when he was picked up by the police early on 1 August. They did not even let him wear his clothes and took him just as he was," he said. "I made the police who arrested him speak to the district magistrate, but to no avail."
You can read Nikita Jatin’s full story here.