Gurugram sees fresh protests over Friday namaz dispute
Gurugram on Friday witnessed fresh protests over the issue of offering namaz (prayers by Muslims) in the open. Meanwhile, members of the Muslim community refused to offer prayers at any gurdwara in the city saying they did not want a conflict. Notably, a committee overseeing five gurdwaras in Gurugram had offered their premises to Muslims for Friday prayers following protests from Hindu groups.
- The incidents highlight the communal tensions over Friday prayers in Gurugram will linger on.
- In 2018, the district administration had designated 37 sites for offering prayers following which Hindu groups had staged protests.
- Such protests restarted earlier this year and have intensified in the recent weeks.
- Gurugram administration has since withdrawn permission for eight of those sites citing objection from the locals.
Muslims said they refused the gurdwara committee's offer as they did not want any untoward incident, especially during the Sikh festival of gurpurab. "Since today was a big festival of the Sikh community, a huge rush of devotees was expected and we didn't want to jeopardize security," Altaf Ahmad of the Gurgaon Muslim Council said in a statement.
Meanwhile, members of the Hindu group Sanyukta Hindu Sangharsh Samiti reached a gurdwara in Gurugram around Friday noon. They distributed religious books titled "Guru Teg Bahadur-Hind Ki Chadar" and stayed there until 2 pm, PTI reported.
Further, around 40 people offered prayers at local businessman Akshay Yadav's vacant shop in Sector 12 area. Yadav has been offering the place for the past two weeks. "We prayed here last week as well. The week before that, we prayed outdoors, where trouble was created," said Asif Khan, a shopkeeper in the area. Several others have also come forward to offer their premises.
However, an incident was reported in the city's Sector 37 where 15-20 people had gathered to offer prayers at a designated spot. But protesters said they wanted to play cricket at the site. Police then took them to Sector 10 Police Station to discuss the matter. Eventually some people were able to offer prayers while others were forced to leave.
"Christians have also extended support. It's a gracious gesture on the part of Akshay Yadav, and Sikhs and Christians to open up their places. But we realize it is not a long-term solution," said Altaf. There are 22 mosques in Gurugram, per a 2018 report by Scroll. Many Muslims find it hard to offer prayers there due to the lack of space and time.