Locals protest against Friday prayers in Ggm Sec 47, Muslims move to new site - Hindustan Times
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Locals protest against Friday prayers in Ggm Sec 47, Muslims move to new site

Oct 09, 2021 06:23 AM IST

Around40 to 50 residents gathered at the prayer site in Sector 47, and began shouting slogans. They also carried placards demanding a stop to Friday prayers in open spaces. Muslims were asked by the Gurugram police to shift their prayers to a site around 200 metres from the original spot

Around a 100 Muslims, who had gathered in Sector 47 to offer Friday prayers, were asked by the Gurugram police to shift their prayers to a site around 200 metres from the original spot after a group of residents protested against them offering namaz in a public place.

Residents of Sector 47 protest against the Friday namaz offered at HUDA ground as police stand guard in Gurugram. (Vipin Kumar /HT PHOTO)
Residents of Sector 47 protest against the Friday namaz offered at HUDA ground as police stand guard in Gurugram. (Vipin Kumar /HT PHOTO)

The prayers, however, were conducted peacefully at the new site in the presence of police.

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At about 1pm Friday, around40 to 50 residents gathered at the prayer site, which is located on a vacant ground in Sector 47, and began shouting slogans. They also carried placards demanding a stop to Friday prayers in open spaces.

The protesting residents said Friday prayers should be offered in mosques or on Waqf Board land, and not in public places.

Sunil Yadav, president of the residents’ welfare association of Sector 47, said, “Every week, hundreds of people gather in this area to offer namaz on government land. Due to this, vehicular movement gets affected as the plot is next to a private school, and the namaz timings clash with the time when school ends and our children return home. They (Muslims) should offer prayers at mosques or in their religious institutions. We had raised the matter with the district administration earlier also and have submitted a letter on Friday as well. The administration assured us that they will look into the matter and find a solution,” he said.

Residents also alleged that until a few months ago, around 20 people would gather at the spot for prayers on Friday; but now the number is close to 200. They also said a majority of the people who gathered there on Fridays were not from the area.

Kuldeep Yadav, councillor of ward 29, who was present at the spot, said they submitted a written complaint to the administration. “We asked the administration to tell us which resident consented to the use of this site for offering prayers. Residents are protesting because they want this practice to end,” he said.

In 2018, the district administration had designated 37 sites, including the Sector 47 site, as places where prayers could be offered on Friday.

Yadav, however, said this arrangement was not permanent and the authorities must find a solution.

Muslims, who had gathered for prayers on Friday, said they shifted the prayers to another site nearby as local police requested them to do so in view of the protests.

Mufti Mohammad Salim Qasmi, president of the Gurugram unit of Jamiat Ulama, said they complied with the request as their purpose was to pray peacefully. He also said there were only 13 mosques in Gurugram-- hardly enough for the 500,000-strong Muslim community of the city.

Some members of the community, however, are angry over the protesters’ allegations of them blocking traffic, which they said was blatantly false. They also said being asked to move was a violation of their right to worship.

“A handful of people are overruling the Constitution of India that gives citizens the right to practise their faith without fear. Their allegations are completely false. This is being done to malign and suppress Muslims. I appeal to the administration and the state government of Haryana to allocate land in several sectors of Gurugram so that we can build mosques,” said Altaf Ahmad, co-founder, Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch, a civil society group.

Aman Yadav, ACP, Sadar, said, “The matter has been brought to the notice of the SDM and district administration. The protesters submitted that this land is meant for a market and they had not given written consent for it to be used as a prayer site. They have been protesting for the past three weeks. Namaz was offered peacefully after Muslims moved slightly away from the site in view of the protests.”

For the past three weeks, offering prayers on Friday at various open sites in Gurugram has become an issue after a Hindu group started appearing at these sites and opposing the prayers, leading to tension. The issue was also widely discussed on social media. In April this year, members of the right wing group had protested against the practice of Friday prayers in the open.

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