Nuh, a town in Haryana located less than 100 kilometres from Delhi, remains infamous for being one of the least developed and most impoverished in terms of population in the country.
The remote city in the foothills of the Aravallis, however, does not feel ignored, as it remains in the news for all the wrong reasons, from the Mewati gangs and cybercrimes to alarmingly low social indicators.
The city is back in the news after communal violence broke out during a Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) rally on Monday, leading to at least five deaths, including three police officers. According to police and government officials, the situation is under control in Nuh and adjoining districts, while Section 144 is imposed to avoid any untoward incident.
Nuh: In Numbers
Nuh in Haryana’s Mewat belt, with predominant Muslim population, is one of the most backward regions in the country. The fact was officially confirmed in April 2018, when NITI Aayog identified the district as India’s most backward district.
The Mewat region is loosely stretched from Alwar and Bharatpur in Rajasthan to parts of Haryana and some parts of western Uttar Pradesh. It derives its name from the Meos, the numerically dominant caste of Muslim peasants. The district was carved out of areas of Gurgaon and Faridabad by the Bhupinder Hooda-led Congress government in 2005.
The Meos traces their origins to Rajputs but experts suggest that they were more likely to have converted to Islam from castes such as the Meenas, Jats and Gujars.
According to the 2011 Census, around 79.2% of Nuh’s total population of around 11 lakh people were Muslims, while Hindus comprise 20.4% of the population.
Despite being two-hour drive from Delhi and sharing its border with IT hub Gurugram, Nuh still happens to be the most backward district. To add to the problem, the poor literacy rate and water crisis worsens the city’s economic conditions.
Mewat to Nuh
The district of Nuh was known as Mewat till 2016 when the Haryana government decided to change the name saying that Mewat was not a town but a geographical unit. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar approved the proposal to change the name of Mewat to Nuh in April 2016.
CM Khattar said the reason behind the change of name was to demarcate areas in the state from those in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. He added that the renaming was part of the government’s development plan for the region.
The Haryana government also said that Mewat was not a town and it was a geographical term to refer to the area adjoining Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
“Mewat in fact is a geographical and cultural unit and not a town. It is spread beyond Haryana in the adjoining States of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The Headquarters of Mewat district is at Nuh town. The people of area and the elected representatives had been demanding that the name of Mewat be changed as Nuh,” Haryana Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu reportedly said.
Cybercrimes and Violence on Rise
The unemployment, backwardness and the lack of opportunities have given rise to violence, especially cybercrimes, in Mewat.
In April, the Haryana Police uncovered the cybercrime gang in the district, which gave a glimpse of the thriving crime in the area. A 102-member police team conducted raids in 320 locations and detained 126 people, out of which 65 were arrested.
During the raids, police recovered 166 fake Aadhaar cards, 128 ATM cards, 99 Sim cards, 66 mobile phones and 5 POS machines.
One of the main reasons behind the rise of cybercrimes in Mewat has been its location as the region is spread over three states- Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. This unique demography makes it a cybercrime hotspot as cybercriminals escape from the police by crossing the state border.
There have also been cases where the police have been attacked when they have gone to raid villages in the area, according to a report in India Today.
Police say that it is more difficult to uncover the cybercrimes in the region as it is not an organised crime, but the boys operate in groups of two-three. Moreover, the unorganised crimes are difficult to wipe out.
As of June 2023, the cybercrime cell has blocked 5 lakh Sim cards that were used in Mewat region for cyber fraud across the country, according to reports.
Nuh SP Vrun Singla said in May that there has been a decline of 26 percent in the number of complaints filed on the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal from the district.
The district has also seen rise of communal speeches and rise of right-wing cow vigilante groups. In May 2021, a mahapanchayat was held in Mewat’s Indri village where several anti-Muslim hate speeches were made by Hindutva leaders in support of the accused of mob lynching violence.