Friday prayers amid police cordon again as Gurugram residents continue protest - Hindustan Times
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Friday prayers amid police cordon again as Gurugram residents continue protest

By, Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Oct 16, 2021 01:58 AM IST

The police shifted the site of the Friday prayers around 100 metres from the original designated spot to avoid any confrontation between the protesters and the devotees. But local residents, many of whom were Hindu, said they wanted the prayers to completely stop

embers of the Muslim community offered prayers amid heavy police presence, shouting of slogans, and singing of bhajans (religious songs) in Gurugram’s Sector 47 on Friday afternoon, as local residents continued their protest against offering Namaz in open spaces for the fourth consecutive week.

Around 100 policemen and policewomen were deployed at Sector 47 to prevent the protesters, who were singing bhajans and shouting slogans, from reaching the prayer site. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
Around 100 policemen and policewomen were deployed at Sector 47 to prevent the protesters, who were singing bhajans and shouting slogans, from reaching the prayer site. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

The police shifted the site of the Friday prayers around 100 metres from the original designated spot to avoid any confrontation between the protesters and the devotees. But local residents, many of whom were Hindu, said they wanted prayers to completely stop.

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Around 100 policemen and policewomen were deployed at Sector 47 to prevent the protesters, who were singing bhajans and shouting slogans, from reaching the prayer site. Heated arguments were also witnessed between the police and protesters, who insisted on trying to get to the spot where prayers were being offered. The police also did not allow reporters to reach the prayer site and cordoned off the area.

Police said protesters gathered at the parking site around 12.30pm. They started singing bhajans while walking towards the prayer site but were stopped by the police. They also carried placards demanding a ban on namaz in open spaces and shouted slogans against authorities for failing to stop Friday prayers in their sector.

Sunil Yadav, president of the Sector 47 residents’ welfare association (RWA), said that they wanted the authorities to stop Friday prayers in their sector as a majority of the devotees did not belong to the area. “We have held a discussion with district administration and suggested sites near Subash Chowk and Marble Market, which have little to no residential population. If the authorities check the identity cards and Aadhaar cards of the people offering prayers in Sector 47, they would not find a single local as all are outsiders,” said Yadav.

In 2018, the controversy of holding Friday prayers in public places resulted in a major dispute, after which the police and administration identified 37 sites where Friday prayers were allowed.

The RWA president said the list of designated places for Friday prayers, including the Sector 47 site, finalised in 2018 has been submitted to the police. He claimed that the list mentions that the order was meant for a single day.

Aman Yadav, ACP, Sadar, Gurugram confirmed that the residents submitted a list of places but its veracity needs to be checked. “In the meeting held earlier, this list was not shared,” he said, adding that the prayers were held under police protection and without any hindrance.

The protesters, a majority of whom were local residents, said they were ready to offer the Sector 47 community centre for Friday prayers for the sector residents, but demanded that outsiders not be allowed to pray in public.

Members of the Muslim community, meanwhile, said they were being harassed by residents.

“The Muslim community is being harassed every Friday in various sectors of Gurugram and this needs to be condemned by politicians across party lines. The administration should not tolerate this kind of discrimination and needs to take strict action against this unlawful protest. The residents have also been instigated by those who want to gain political mileage and are using them as shields,” said Altaf Ahmad, founder member, Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch.

District officials however, assured that arrangements would be made for peaceful prayers on Friday. “Discussions are being held and the issue will be resolved soon after meeting both sides,” said a district administration official requesting anonymity.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Abhishek Behl is principal correspondent, Hindustan Times in Gurgaon Bureau. He covers infrastructure, planning and civic agencies in the city. He has been covering Gurgaon as correspondent for the last 10 years, and has written extensively on the city.

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