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Indian police arrest ‘cow vigilante’ accused of inciting religious riots

NEW DELHI – The police on Tuesday arrested the leader of a Hindu group that protects cows, who had been on the run after being accused of inciting Hindu-Muslim violence in India’s northern Haryana state, a police official said.

Mohit Yadav, who is known by his alias Monu Manesar, was arrested for allegedly uploading objectionable and inflammatory posts under a fictitious name on social media before the religious clashes in August, the official said.

Manesar is also involved in a double murder case in neighbouring Rajasthan state.

Seven people were killed and more than 70 injured during a series of riots in two districts of Haryana state. The riots broke out after a Hindu religious procession was targeted. A mosque was attacked in retaliation in August.

Manesar heads a unit set up by a hardline Hindu group to protect cows, which are considered sacred by India’s Hindu-majority population. These so-called “cow vigilantes” often attack people accused of killing or smuggling the animals for meat.

Two days before the religious procession, Manesar released a video announcing that he would attend the religious event, and appealed to other Hindus to join him.

The police said the video angered Muslims, who then targeted the procession because of Manesar’s previous involvement in a case regarding the lynching of two Muslim men in February 2023, on the pretext that they were smuggling cows.

Manesar is being held in custody pending further investigations. REUTERS

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