Gurugram becoming hotspot of communal tensions amidst government apathy

Muslims feel victimised as interference in Namaz continues

Society

December 12, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Gurugram becoming hotspot of communal tensions amidst government apathy

Pramod Raghav along with RJL members chanting "Jai Shree Ram!" (MIG Photos/Abhishek Bhuniya)

Muslims in Gurugram were yet again denied their right to pray in the community grounds in Khandsa village in Gurugram. An extreme right wing group, Rashtravadi Jan Lok party, continued in blocking the weekly rituals of the Muslims by occupying the land where Muslims offer prayers.

As has become the weekly norm in Gurugram, offering of the weekly namaz by Muslims at a community ground in Khandsa village of sector 37 was yet against disrupted by far right elements, who blocked the access to the ground and created a din by shouting Jai Shri Ram, to ensure that the few Muslims who did turn up for the namaz were unable to do so.

“Praying is a personal and divine activity. People who offer resistance in the process of any religion are nothing short of demons. In mythology, even in Hindu mythology, people who hindered the process of praying were categorised as demons. For the past twenty-thirty years, we had no problem in offering our prayers as we had an agreement with the government to use the grounds for prayers, but now even the government has chosen to look the other way,” one of the handful of Muslims who did turn up on Friday tells Media India Group.

Another devotee, who wanted to conduct his prayer, told Media India Group that they had been praying in the same open ground for the past 20-30 years without any problems. “Every Friday, we gathered here to offer prayers without any issue. But for the past one month, we have constantly been harassed and prevented from this basic ritual,’’ another Muslim joins in.

The few Muslims who did come to the site were turned away by the members of RJL, who say they are not against the namaz or the Muslims, but are against use of public space for the same. “We are not against Muslims, we are just against the offering of namaz in public. The place here is unauthorised for offering namaz. And if required we will protest against it for a year,” Pramod Raghav, secretary of RJL, tells Media India Group.

“This piece of ground belongs to the village, not the Muslims. They have come here from outside and are tenants of the area and tenants living anywhere will have to live by the rules of landlord and the people of Khandsa are the landlords here,” adds another member of RJL, Rinku Pradhan.

People gathered in Sector 37, Gurugram to oppose Muslims from reading Namaz in the open (MIG Photos/Abhishek Bhuniya)

The large number of right wing elements and their violent body language and tenor of preventing the namaz has sowed fear in the minds of the Muslims, who are now afraid for their lives. One of the devotees who used to use the open space for his weekly prayer told Media India Group, “Saving life is more important than offering Namaz. There are a lot of people of our community nearby. Due to a shortage of space in the area and a lesser number of mosques we are forced to offer our weekly prayers in the open.”

The Muslims say that they are forced to offer prayers in the public as the sole mosque in the entire area is too small to accommodate all of them. The Jama Masjid in sector 12, Gurugram, is choc a bloc filled with people during the time of namaz. Approximately 500 people offer their namaz. The crowd is so much on Friday afternoons that not just the mosque floor, but ever space in and around the mosque is filled with people – who are forced to pray on the roof, basement, the main hall and even in the park in front of the mosque. As the park is a property of the mosque, it has not led to any resistance for offering namaz there.

Muslims say that for long they had been requesting the truck drivers who parked their vehicles on the community ground in sector 37 to let them pray and the drivers would happily oblige them by moving their vehicles for the duration of the prayers. Within thirty minutes the prayer would be over and people would resume their daily chores. This, however, seems to be in the distant past now as the right wing elements tell Muslims to pray within their homes. “You want to worship, worship in your own homes within four walls not in public,” is the retort of the right wing.

The growing tension has forced many Hindus, who had so far been happy to offer their space for namaz, to rethink. Shopkeepers and vendors outside the mosque in sector 12 think that this spread of communal hatred is forcing people in society to close their doors to them. “There are many people who offer their roofs as a place to our people to offer namaz. But even now they are afraid to let us use their homes. The ritual of offering namaz cannot be done within four walls in solitude. It has to be given in the open with the community and in the presence of an Imam. There is a lot of property authorised for the mosques but they are either encroached or locked. Even the waqf properties are under lock and key. We request the government to hear our plea and provide a solution,” pleads another Muslim.

The fringe right wing received a boost last Friday when Haryana chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, said that “namaz offering will not be tolerated” in the public. “We have told the police and the Deputy Commissioner that this issue has to be resolved. To resolve it, everyone offers prayers at their own place, someone offers namaz, someone does paath, someone does puja, we have no issue with that. And religious places are built for these purposes only so that prayers are offered there. Such practises should not take place in the open, this practice of offering namaz prayers here in the open, this will not be tolerated.” Khattar said in a press conference on Friday.

With the government issuing a sort of carte blanche to the right wing elements, it would indeed be a wonder if the Muslims of Sector 37 in Gurugram could ever pray again without having to look over their backs all the time.

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