Reduction of permitted places to offer public prayers at Gurgaon leave Muslims disappointed

There is disappointment and growing resentment in Gurugram following the administration withdrawing permission for Muslims to offer Friday prayers at eight of 37 designated places agreed upon in 2018

Reduction of permitted places to offer public prayers at Gurgaon leave Muslims disappointed

Ashlin Mathew

There is disappointment and growing resentment in Gurugram ( Gurgaon) following the administration withdrawing permission for Muslims to offer Friday prayers at eight of the 37 designated places agreed upon in 2018.

A section of the Muslims accused the RSS affiliated Muslim Rashtriya Manch to have given their consent to the withdrawal without any consensus or consultation within the community. 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 RSS and Hindu bodies. The chairman of the Muslim Ekta Manch lent him his support, these sections alleged, insinuating that they had been co-opted by the administration. The rival group has planned a meeting on Thursday, November 4 to choose a representative delegation to re-negotiate with the administration.

Altaf Ahmad, who was a part of the five-member committee which met the DC, accused Rajak and his associates of shouting him down at the meeting and preventing him from addressing the media present at the collectorate. “Razak and MRM did not want me to present the “official” Muslim side. They informed media that Muslims had agreed to not offering prayers in open spaces. Rajak wants to paint the picture that he is the representative of Muslims in Gurgaon, but he is not. He was not 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 member 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 called on DCP Deepak Saharan, ACP Rajeev Kumar and SDM-Badshahpur Satish Yadav and conveyed their consent to reduction of the number of places for namaz.

“We came to know of the meeting only after photographs surfaced in the social media,” underscored Ahmad. The community is likely to request former Rajya Sabha MP Mohammad Adeeb to represent them in front of the Gurgaon administration.

On Tuesday, Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner Yash 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.

On Tuesday, Rajak, who is also a member of the Haryana Waqf Board, said 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 2021, Rajak said the Friday prayers had turned into a political issue to pitch one community against the other. He added that “changes” could be adopted to maintain peace, reported the Hindustan Times.

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 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 recent namaz disruptions began since September 17, 2021, when Bharat Mata Vahini’s Dinesh Bharti and his group started to hurl abuses and communal slurs on those offering namaz. Since March 2021, he has been going to various sectors in Gurgaon to interrupt public namaz on Friday.

On October 22, 2021, members of Hindu Right-wing groups Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad began to play bhajans on speakers at a ground in Sector 12, Gurugram, while Muslims were offering their Friday prayers. Last week, the Gurgaon police had arrested 26 protestors, including members of right-wing outfits, for disrupting and attempting to block Friday namaz in Gurgaon.

Meanwhile, Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch, a group of concerned citizens, have come out with a statement pointing out that there were only two mosques in New Gurgaon. The half-built mosque in Sector 57 can accommodate only 300 people for namaaz and the second 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 objections 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.

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Published: 04 Nov 2021, 10:27 AM