After disruptions by right-wing groups and locals for several weeks, Friday namaz was offered at nine locations in Gurgaon amid heavy police deployment.
At least 20 men affiliated with Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti — a conglomerate of 22 right-wing groups that has been spearheading protests against namaz in open spaces — reached Shyam Chowk at Udyog Vihar, where prayers were yet to start. Police turned them back, informing them the site had been reserved for prayers as per an agreement between stakeholders.
Mufti Mohammad Saleem, president of Jamiat Ulema e Hind, Gurgaon, claimed that police had stopped people from offering namaz at multiple spots. “At several open places where namaz is offered — marble market, Sector 44, Sector 52, DLF phase 3 — police stopped namaz saying that the permission is only for six locations. There is no clarity from the administration regarding the list of sites. At a dargah at Sector 40, where we were about to offer namaz, police said the land belongs to a school. According to us, the land comes under the Waqf board. Police asked us to produce documents, which we did not have at the time. We told them to call the patwari (revenue record official) and verify. We didn’t offer namaz there. By next week, we will check who owns the specified land at Sector 40 and decide accordingly.”
Police sources said at nine locations — Leisure Valley, Shyam Chowk, Shankar Chowk, near Spicejet office at Udyog Vihar, Sector 42, Sector 69, two sites in IMT Manesar and Sector 34 — namaz prayers were offered.
Parveen Yadav, who led the protesters at Shyam Chowk, said, “We have filed complaints at two police stations and urged the administration to take action against people violating the (Haryana) CM’s orders. If there is no action, we will continue our agitation next week.” Yadav was among the group that had disrupted namaz at a park at Udyog Vihar last week and coerced Muslims to chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ slogans.
Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, legal adviser, Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, said, “The CM has said namaz in the open is a show of strength and no member of any community should hold regular religious programmes in open spaces. We have submitted a complaint to police stating that CM’s orders should be followed, and action should be taken against violators. This is jihad in the name of namaz. After CM’s statements, it is quite clear that there are no designated sites for namaz.”
Aman Singh, SHO, Sector 29 police station, said a complaint had been received.
Replying to the issue raised by Congress MLA Aftab Ahmed during the zero hour, CM Manohar Lal Khattar Tuesday had said during the winter session of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha, “People of all faiths hold prayers at designated religious places and permissions are given for all big festivals and programmes in open. But by displaying a show of strength provoking sentiments of another community is not appropriate… No member of any community should hold such programmes in open spaces.”