Namaz row: Muslims demand legal action, land for mosques in Gurugram
The district administration said efforts were on resolve the sensitive issue, and the city police added that they were providing adequate security at all designated namaz sites
Members of the Muslim community on Wednesday alleged that the government authorities have failed to take action against miscreants who have been disrupting the Friday namaz in the city, and added that they were being denied their constitutional right to practice their religion.
“We have submitted a report to 18 political parties in the hope that they will take up the issue in Parliament and other public fora. Communal slogans and provocative speeches are being made against Muslims, and the authorities are taking no action,” said Mohammad Adeeb, former Rajya MP and a member of Gurgaon Muslim Council, at a press conference organised by the two groups at the Constitution Club in New Delhi.
The district administration said efforts were on resolve the sensitive issue, and the city police added that they were providing adequate security at all designated namaz sites.
The presser was also attended by political and social activists such as Prof Apoorvanand and Dr Syeda Saiyidain Hameed.
Hindu right wing groups have been protesting against Friday namaz in open public spaces in Gurugram since 2018. The same year, the administration designated 37 sites for Muslims to perform the Friday prayers. However, in November this year, the number of sites was cut down to 20 after members of the right-wing outfits continued to protest and disrupt prayers. The Muslims, however, have maintained that they were forced to use public spaces since there were not enough mosques in the city.
On Wednesday, members of the two Muslim groups who have been raising the issue with the administration also demanded action against members of the Hindu groups against whom the Gurugram police were given complaints on November 30 for alleged provocative communal speeches.
“The BJP backed by RSS is bent upon reducing the minorities to second-grade citizens and they plan to achieve this agenda through polarisation. The disruption in namaz is being carried out by the same 20 to 30 people but they are not being taken into preventive custody,” said Apoorvanand, a political commentator.
The Haryana BJP, however, rejected the charge, saying the state government and its bodies were taking action as per the law, and added that some people were trying to politicise the issue.
“The activities of some people show their intention to politicise this issue. They are creating a law and order situation and disharmony in the society at large,” said Raman Malik, Haryana BJP spokesperson.
Mufti Saleem Qasmi, a Gurugram-based religious leader, said baseless allegations were being levelled by the right-wing groups such as by offering namaz at public spaces the Muslims were waging a land jihad, and that those performing prayers were Rohingya, Bangladeshis and not local residents. “There are only 13 mosques in the city, and several people don’t get space to perform namaz. We have approached the authorities to allocate land for establishing religious sites, but nothing has happened,” he said.
Altaf Ahmad of the Gurgaon Muslim Council said the authorities should provide safety at the designated namaz sites and end the harassment by Hindu groups. “The right to perform namaz (freedom to practice one’s religion) is provided by the Constitution. The population of Muslims in the city is around five lakh, but there are only 13 small mosques. The government must provide us sites for building new mosques, and ensure safety at designated sites and stop this targeted harassment” Ahmad said.
Dr Syeda Hameed, a former member of Planning Commission, said, “Efforts must be made to stop communal polarisation and bring people together for peaceful coexistence.”
The Gurugram police said they have been providing adequate security at all designated sites to ensure safety of the worshippers and maintenance of law and order. “Police personnel are deployed in adequate strength at all designated sites as per directions of the administration. No untoward incident has been allowed to happen till date, and in future too nobody will be allowed to disturb law and order in the city,” Subash Boken, Gurugram police spokesperson, said.
Yash Garg, deputy commissioner, Gurugram, said all steps were being taken to resolve the “sensitive” issue. “Concerns of all stakeholders will be taken into consideration and the issue will be resolved. No one will be allowed to disturb the communal harmony and take law and order into their hands,” he said.
Reacting to the claims about availability of land for mosques, Malik said development agencies hold regular auctions of land for religious sites, and everyone is free to participate in it. “The waqf board too has acres of land in Gurugram district, which may be used for establishing mosques. Details of these properties are available in the public domain,” the BJP leader said.
He added that roads and sites “under dispute” are not conducive for offering namaz, according to people aware of Islamic practices. “We will request everybody not to act beyond the ambit of the Constitution and the law of the land. Religion and it’s practice is meant to attain peace, not to the contrary,” said Malik.
Rajiv Mittal, spokesperson, Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, which is campaigning against the Friday namaz said that they were not against the practise of namaz, but only wanted it to be performed inside mosques and religious places. “Followers of no religion are allowed to pray in public places. I want to ask why in Muslim countries namaz is not allowed in open spaces, and in fact penalties are levied if someone violates the rules,” he said, adding that certain vested interests are trying to politicise the issue.