Gurgaon namaz: Local Muslim groups at loggerheads with each other over resolution

A section of Muslims in Gurgaon accuses RSS-backed Muslim Rashtriya Manch of having hijacked the talks with administration over Friday prayers at public spaces; an MRM activist says they want peace

Police stand guard as Muslim offer Friday prayers in an open space in Gurgaon
Police stand guard as Muslim offer Friday prayers in an open space in Gurgaon

Ashlin Mathew

Various groups of local Muslims in Gurgaon are at loggerheads with each other over the issue of Friday prayers at public places with one of them accusing an RSS-backed body of hijacking the talks with the administration and unduly speaking on their behalf.

Muslims in Gurgaon are disappointed after the administration withdrew permission to offer Friday prayers at eight of the 37 designated places agreed upon in 2018.

At a meeting with the Gurugram Collector’s office this week, the Muslim Rashtriya Manch representative Khurshid Rajak agreed to several demands raised by the right wing groups including Samyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti. The chairman of the Muslim Ekta Manch Haji Shehzad Khan too supported Rajak.

The other group is planning a meeting on November 4 to select a delegation to renegotiate with the administration. They are mulling to request former Rajya Sabha MP Mohammad Adeeb to represent them in front of the Gurgaon administration.

Altaf Ahmad, who was a part of the five-member committee which met Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner Yash Garg, accused Rajak and his associates of shouting him down at the meeting and preventing him from addressing the media present at the collectorate.

“Rajak and MRM did not want me to present the widely-recognised Muslim position. They informed media that Muslims had agreed to not offer prayers at open spaces. Rajak wants to give an impression that he is the sole representative of all the Muslims in Gurgaon, which he is not. He was not even part of the five-member delegation, but the administration still allowed him to be present at the meeting on Wednesday,” said Ahmad, who is also co-founder of the Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch.

Later in the evening at 6.30 pm, without consulting the rest of the Muslim community in Gurgaon, Khurshid Rajak and Haji Shehzad Khan met with DCP Deepak Saharan, ACP Rajeev Kumar and SDM Badshahpur Satish Yadav to reduce the number of places for namaz, he said.

“We came to know of the meeting only after pictures surfaced,” Ahmad said.

However, Rajak insisted that they were invited for the meeting with the Gurgaon administration on Monday and Wednesday. “I don’t know Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch. The meeting at Eidgah is not important. I have worked for the people of Gurgaon,” asserted Rajak.

Rajak, who is also the state Wakf Board member, said the government had not given the Muslims any official permission for namaz. It was based on community understanding.

“To maintain Gurgaon’s image, safety and peace, we decided it would be best if we did not pray in the open. We also requested DC Yash Garg and the administration to remove encroachments from Wakf properties. If the encroachments are removed, we can pray there,” said Rajak, adding that the works for peace and harmony in the area.

Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner Yash Garg did not respond to repeated calls to clarify the matter. On Tuesday, Garg had constituted a committee comprising a sub-divisional magistrate, an ACP-level police officer, members of Hindu and Muslim communities, and social organisations to identify grounds where Friday namaz could be offered.

Rajak pointed out that Friday prayers cannot be conducted under police protection every week. “Prayers being offered in open spaces against the wishes of the people are not in tune with Islam and national unity. We don’t want our Hindu brothers to feel unhappy and disrupt our namaz,” he said.

Without pointing fingers at the disruptive elements who have been opposing Friday prayers in Gurgaon since September this year, Rajak said the Friday prayers had turned into a political issue to pitch one community against the other.

The Gurgaon administration had stated on Tuesday that the permission for prayers had been cancelled after objections from residents and warned that if objections were raised at other prayer sites, permission would not be given there too.

The eight sites where the Friday namaz permission has been revoked are Bengali Basti (Sector 49), Block V of DLF Phase 3, Surat Nagar Phase 1, area near the DLF Square Tower on Jacaranda Marg, the outskirts of the Kherki Majra and Daulatabad villages, near the Ramgarh village in Sector 68, and an area between Rampur village and Nakhrola Road.

The Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch has pointed out that there are only two mosques in New Gurgaon. The half-built mosque in Sector 57 can accommodate only 300 people, while the other site is Eidgah at Rajiv Chowk, which only has temporary sheds.

For both mosque sites, a stay has been taken from the court by people raising objection to construction of mosque. Old Gurgaon has a handful of old and small mosques, and these are unable to accommodate the Muslim population living and working in Gurgaon.

The latest disruptions started on September 17, when Bharat Mata Vahini’s Dinesh Bharti and his men shouted communal slurs at a Muslim congregation. He has been going to various places in Gurgaon to interrupt Friday namaz.

On October 22, members of Hindu Right-wing groups Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad began to play bhajans on speakers at a ground in Sector 12 while Muslims were offering prayers. Last week, the Gurgaon police had arrested 26 protesters for creating ruckus during Friday namaz and endanger peace.

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