Gurugram Police detain but fail to arrest 'Namaz' disruptors raring for trouble

Every Friday an organisation is disrupting Friday prayers by Muslims at designated places allotted by the administration and agreed by both communities. But the police are treating it with kid gloves

Gurugram Police detain but fail to arrest 'Namaz' disruptors raring for trouble

Sanjukta Basu

While Gurgaon Police have ensured that Friday namaz congregations by Muslims are not disrupted by a handful of protestors, the latter are raring for trouble and a showdown. On Friday afternoon, October 29, once again the group turned up in strength to raise slogans and oppose Namaz by devout Muslims. Around one hundred protestors were detained but later let off. The protests arguably have been causing more disruption than the prayer. That the police feel helpless because the protestors enjoy the patronage of politicians in the ruling party is so evident that Haryana’s showpiece city is keeping its fingers crossed and hoping it does not escalate and spin out of control.

The official Twitter handle of Gurgaon Police had set the record straight in September by pointing out that “The namaz spots were decided by both Hindu and Muslim communities following mutual understanding and this place is one of them. Maintaining communal harmony and peace is our utmost responsibility and we will ensure that.” It is telling that the tweet was deleted in a matter of days.

In late September members of Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch (GNEM), a citizens collective, called on the Deputy Commissioner of Police and submitted a letter urging appropriate action against people “attempting to create enmity where none exists” and disturb communal harmony.

GNEM claims that the self-styled Bharat Mata Vahini members had been showing up at namaz locations, intimidating imams and using provocative language in a planned attempt to disrupt prayers and provoke violence. GNEM claimed that prayers were being offered at these sites for several years but this group began causing disruptions from March this year.

“In March, the group was successful in getting prayers shut at sites in Sectors 39, 40 and 41. An FIR was registered against one of their leaders earlier. Yet, they are undeterred. Action needs to be taken against them,” a GEM founder was quoted as saying. For the past month and a half videos have been surfacing every Friday showing the vigilante group, which include women, aggressively shouting slogans and demanding action against people praying. “We do everything in a temple, why do they (Muslims) come here, why cannot they go to the nearby mosque, they harass our sisters and daughters, we are afraid…,” some of them could be heard telling the cops.

The namaz site at Sector 47 is among a list of 37 designated sites for namaz agreed upon by all parties in May 2018, concede the police. Protesters claim the arrangement was a one-time concession. That they are fishing for trouble became obvious when in a written complaint to the police one of the protestors claimed, “I have a suspicion that these people (Muslims offering prayers) are Rohingyas or from Bangladesh. Their IDs should be checked…”.

While Gurgaon Police have handled the situation well, provided security cover for Friday prayers and even detained some of the protesters, stricter action is needed to ensure that the situation does not spin out of control. While devout Muslims prefer to pray five times a day, it is the Friday prayer which is mandatory for even those who skip praying on other week days. To save time needed to visit and return from a mosque, which could be distant from the workplace, they offer Friday prayers wherever they find themselves at the specified time. There have been no report from Gurgaon of any disruption of traffic, schools, hospitals etc. during Friday prayers.

A list of protesters, their occupation and their motivation would be known to the police by now, who are expected to warn and restrain the mischief mongers.

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