Gurugram: People offer Friday prayers under police vigil amid several protests
Amid threats of disruption from a group of people, members of the Muslim community offered prayers under police vigil at around 24 places in Gurugram on Friday.
Police said their deployment in Sector 47 was high as many people gathered near the prayer spot to protest against the practice. “We have asked the protesters to hold a meeting with the district administration to resolve the matter,” said the police.
Over the past two weeks, offering prayers at public places like parks, parking areas on Fridays has become a major issue after a group run by members of the Hindu community in Gurugram started appearing at these sites to oppose the practice. The issue was widely discussed on social media, which made the police department issue a clarification to the people on September 27, in which it said that “the matter was in cognisance, and asked the people to refrain from spreading misinformation”.
Members of the Muslim community, who were present in Sector 47 on Friday, said that the prayer spot was away from the nearby residential area. “Muslims offer congregation prayers only on Fridays, Eid, and Eid al-Adha. There’s only a small mosque in Sector 57, New Gurgaon, and everyone can’t go there on Fridays or on these occasions... Lands have not been allotted for mosques for quite a long time now. We want the Haryana government to allot us land for mosques in every sector, so that we can comfortably offer prayers there,” said Altaf Ahmad, founder member, Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch -- a Gurugram-based civil society organisation.
Ahmad said that opposition to prayers is becoming a regular affair, and some vested persons have been engaged in this. “We faced similar problems earlier in March-April this year, and it hurt the religious sentiments of the masses,” he said, calling for strict action against such elements.
Gurugram Police, meanwhile, said that prayers at designated spots took place peacefully on Friday, and the police maintained a close watch there. “Police personnel were deployed in Sector 47, as it was expected that people might protest there against offering of prayers. A team, led by an assistant commissioner of police (ACP), maintained law and order in the area,” said Subash Boken, spokesperson of the Gurugram Police.
Aman Yadav, ACP (Sadar), who was on duty in Sector 47 on Friday, said, “The residents have the right to protest peacefully... and they have agreed to our suggestion to hold a meeting with the district administration to discuss this matter.”
Raman Malik, a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader, who has written a letter to the Gurugram administration on this issue, said that the Haryana Waqf Board has ample land, and it should use some of that for religious purposes. “Offering prayers is a private affair, and in a secular country like India, it should happen either inside homes or at religious places, not at public parks and parking areas,” he said.