Protests against Friday prayers a deliberate attempt to disrupt peace in Gurugram

Protests against Friday prayers a deliberate attempt to disrupt peace in Gurugram

October 17, 2021

By Abdul Bari Masoud

New Delhi:  For the fourth consecutive Friday, Muslims offered prayers Sector 47, Gurugram amid threats of disruption, provocative sloganeering and Vedic rituals, aarti and bhajan recitation, on loudspeaker by an ultra right-wing group called Bharat Mata Vahini.

Despite the spot being designated by the district administration for the namaz, this group seems to be adamant to push this satellite town of the National Capital Region into a communal cauldron.

It is a rerun of 2018 when this outfit first demanded a ban on Friday prayers in spaces outside mosques. The outfit has again become active by using a handful of residents to stage protests at the sites designated for namaz in the city.

Muslims have refused to shift the prayers from this spot, one of 37 public grounds designated by the administration in the city, as they continue to hold talks involving local representatives, police and the sub-divisional magistrate.

According to local Muslims, people protesting against organisation of Friday prayers in Gurugram were instigated by Vahini leader Dinesh Bharti who, as they allege, has a criminal record.

Bharti was arrested in March and April, and obtained bail on both occasions. Last week too he was taken into preventive detention, and was released on bail.

“In March, Dinesh Bharti who claims to be the head of a group called Bharat Mata Vahini… along with a few more men began targeting and disrupting these remaining 34 Jumma sites where the administration had promised to provide security and ensure Jumma namaz happens peacefully every Friday afternoon,  said Altaf Ahmad, who represents  civil society group Gurugram Nagrik Ekta Manch (GNEM) which  wrote a letter to the police commissioner urging appropriate action under the CrPC against Bharat Mata Vahini after they threatened to disrupt Friday prayers.

The letter stated that,

“A handful of people are overruling the Constitution of India that gives citizens the right to practise their faith without fear. Their allegations are completely false. This is being done to malign and suppress Muslims. I appeal to the administration and the state government of Haryana to allocate land in several sectors of Gurugram so that we can build mosques”.

“This has emboldened the group considerably and they have been regularly issuing warnings via social media to Muslim residents of Gurugram with threats to continue disrupting the Jumma namaaz,” the letter said.

Ahmad says “Bharti succeeded in stopping the Friday prayer at Sectors 39, 40 and 43 during March and April of this year. The community did register an FIR against Bharti on April 16…. Now, once again since September 17, Bharti and his group are disturbing Jumma namaz and the communal harmony of this city.”

Concerned citizens also expressed their dismay at the way police dealt with these miscreants and anti-social elements who, under the garb of religion, tried to create communal discord in a city which is called a ‘millennium town’ housing many MNCs headquarters.

Police’s lenient attitude has emboldened these anti-national elements, said former Member of Parliament Mohammad Adeeb who especially came to Sector 47 to offer namaz.

Despite not being well, I went to the site to offer Friday prayer in order to give strength to my fellow brethren, Adeeb told Muslim Mirror.

It is very unfortunate that Muslims are not being allowed to offer prayers on the land of a country, which is a common heritage, he said.

“Muslims of this country who ditched Jinnah and embraced Gandhiji, are today not allowed offering namaz in their own country. It is a shame that we are still seeing these days.  What kind of country have we become? What kind of atmosphere has been created in the country?  And a country gives its citizens the constitutional right to practise their own religion”.

He alleged that mosques were not being allowed to be built on Waqf board land, he added, “We are not asking for any funds. We can construct mosques on our own. Just give us land.”

Referring to the case of One-Minar mosque, the ex- MP said the local Muslims won the case in lower and higher courts but the mosque was still locked.

There were only 15 mosques in this fast growing city which are hardly enough for the 500,000-strong Muslim community to offer namaz.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, Gurugram unit president Mufti Mohammad Salim said Muslims have no option but to perform namaz in open spaces as the process of allotting land for religious places in Gurugram has dragged on for years.

It takes only 20 to 30 minutes minutes to perform namaz, that too just once in a week, but the communal forces have a problem too with it. People from nearby areas come here for namaz,” said Mufti Salim and added that for the past few weeks, these elements have been staging protests. They also carried placards demanding a stop to Friday prayers in open spaces.

These elements have open support from the ruling party BJP. Local BJP councillor Kuldeep Yadav extends support to the protest saying residents want a market set up on this land, which was earmarked for building one. They don’t want namaz offered here.

He even makes wild allegations that Residents have a problem as the crime rate has increased and young boys loiter here after the Friday namaz and misbehave…. “Have you ever heard of police admitting that crime is rising?”

However, Assistant commissioner of police (Sadar) Aman Yadav refuted these allegations. He told reporters: “It’s a false allegation to spoil the atmosphere…. Neither last Friday nor before that was any information of harassment of women received, nor has any complaint been made.”

“On Friday, a police officer supervising the arrangements denied Yadav’s charge,” he added.

There is enough waqf land in the city that can be used for constructing new mosques but the community does not get permission for this. Ex MP Adeeb, who has shifted to sector 28 in Gurugram, puts more blame on the Haryana waqf Board for this messy situation. He also planned to meet the Gurugram MP Rao Inderjit Singh on the issue.

This correspondent made many attempts to contact Chaudhary Zakir Hussain to know his side on the issue but failed. Husain is currently the Administrator of Haryana Waqf Board and the national vice-president of BJP minority morcha who was a three-time MLA from Nun in Mewat.

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