Posters threatening Muslim migrant workers to leave and warning that their hutments will be set on fire have triggered panic in some sectors of Gurugram, with police saying that strict action will be taken against those responsible, and Hindu groups saying they had nothing to do with the act.
The hand-written messages were pasted outside the rooms where migrant workers, many of them Muslims, live in sectors 69, 70 and 71 between 6am and 7am on Sunday. “Vacate the slums within two days else we will set them on fire and they will themselves be responsible for your death,” read one such note.
HT visited a slum in Sector 70, where handwritten posters in Hindi were put up, threatening Muslim migrants to leave.
The notices have sparked fear among migrant workers, many of whom have told their employers that they fear a reprisal of the violence on July 31 and August 1, when clashes during a Hindu procession in neighbouring Nuh district spilled over, killing six people and injuring at least 88. Many migrant workers were threatened during that time, and fled the city to save their lives.
Shahid Khan, a native of Malda in West Bengal who worked at Sector 70, said he decided to leave the city along with his wife. “We had returned on August 21 but with the present situation , it’s not safe anymore…My wife is pregnant and I am scared for her and my child,” he said.
Varun Singla, assistant commissioner of police (crime), said police teams were deployed in all the areas with a high population of Muslim migrants. “We are trying to identify the person and strict action will be taken against the miscreant for disrupting peace and spreading fake messages,” he said.
However, VHP members said they did not paste these posters. “Someone is intentionally trying to tarnish our image,” said Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, a VHP member. The posters have led to many people leaving. Ajay Sharma, member of Tulip Ivory residents welfare association in Sector 70, said that the domestic help and car cleaners were living in fear. “Deputy commissioner Nishant Kumar Yadav personally visited the area and had asked migrants not to leave and had deployed additional forces for their safety. He assured peace and safety for people. We have now decided to hold a peace march to support the community,” he added.
On Sunday, many residents said their Muslim domestic helpers, car cleaners, cooks, security guards and drivers did not report to work. Some factories, salons, and even shops at malls also reported that Muslim workers did not come in, said district officials. Other residents called for the police to take stricter action. “The local authorities and law enforcement should take note of it and act swiftly before any serious incident take place,” said Durgesh Mishra, a resident of Tulip Purple in Sector 70.
After the communal clashes in Haryana earlier this month, migrant workers — those employed in factories, restaurants, households and at construction sites — left Gurugram in droves or were too scared to report to work after they were threatened by some local residents.
Most returned to the city, but they said the posters had struck fresh fear in them.
Hamza Hussain, a native of West Bengal, said that he felt the city was no longer safe for Muslims. “We are being held responsible for the communal violence whereas we had no role to play. We are suffering since then and have been travelling from one place to another,” he said.