Namaz row in Gurugram: Police complaint against three Hindu group leaders
A member of a Muslim group in Gurugram on Tuesday filed a police complaint against three members of different Hindu groups for allegedly hurting religious sentiments with their remarks, while protesting against namaz in the open on Fridays. No case has been registered as yet, said police, adding that the allegations are being investigated.
Mufti Mohd Saleem, president of Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, Gurgaon division, said he submitted a complaint on behalf of the Muslim Community of Gurgaon — an umbrella body of different Muslim groups in the city — on Tuesday.
“On various occasions, we have observed that a certain group of persons — in particular Dinesh Bharti, Kulbhushan Bhardwaj and Mahaveer Bhardwaj (the three men named in the complaint) — have been repeatedly making provocative statements in public with the intention of promoting enmity against Islam. This has deeply hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims. Needless to say, they are repeatedly doing these acts that are prejudicial to the maintenance of communal harmony,” he said.
Saleem said he also gave to the police a pen drive containing links to the videos where the people named in the complaint can purportedly be seen mocking the Muslim community and threatening them with violence.
Deepak Saharan, deputy commissioner of police (west), said they have received the complaint and are verifying the facts. “We are investigating to ascertain the facts. No case has been registered as yet,” he said.
This is the first time that a Muslim group or member is filing a police complaint against any Hindu group or member, although namaz disruptions have been taking place in Gurugram since September this year.
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Over the past three months, right-wing groups have tried to disrupt namaz being offered in open spaces in sectors 47, 12, 37 and Sirhaul Village. On November 5, Hindu groups organised a Govardhan Puja at the site in Sector 12A, where namaz used to be offered on Fridays. Due to continued protests, the district administration in early November reduced the number of designated public sites for Friday prayers from 37 to 20.
Altaf Ahmad, a representative of the Muslim community, said the intervention of the police and the administration in the matter has been lacking over the past few weeks. “Since the time the Govardhan Puja was held in Sector 12A namaz site, we have seen the administration and police taking a step back. Several civil society groups, including the Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch, have decided to come together on December 1 at 11am at Civil Lines, and protest against the inaction of the administration,” he said.
Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, legal advisor of Sanyukt Hindu Sangarsh Samiti, a Hindu umbrella body leading protests against namaz in open spaces, said they will continue to disrupt Friday prayers in public spaces. “We are not frightened of police complaints and will continue to disrupt prayers in the open. We have given them (Muslims) a month to look for other places and this Friday, we will spread to all sites where namaz is offered and create disruption even on pain of getting arrested,” he said.
Dinesh Bharti, president of Bharat Mata Vahini, said he has been imprisoned several times in Gurugram for interrupting namaz. “I am also filing a complaint against Muslims for targeting me and tarnishing my image,” he said.