Will stop public namaz: Muslim body amid clamour from right-wing groups
Members of the Muslim community on Monday said that they have decided to stop offering Friday prayers (namaz) at an open site in Sector 12, which was designated by the district administration, to avoid confrontations with right-wing Hindu groups and ensure “harmonious” coexistence of all religions.
Community leaders and members of the Haryana Waqf Board on Monday met the deputy commissioner and submitted a memorandum to the chief minister, offering to stop namaz in open spaces and requesting that officials concerned be directed to remove encroachments from mosques and land owned by the Waqf Board.
Khurshhid Rajaka, a member of the Haryana Waqf Board, who is also the chairman of Muslim Rashtriya Manch, said that prayers cannot be conducted under the shadow of police protection every Friday. “Prayers being offered amid opposition and against the wishes of the people are not in tune with Islam and national unity. We don’t want our Hindu brothers to feel unhappy and resort to protests to disrupt our namaz,” Rajaka said.
The Haryana Waqf Board has 19 land parcels in different areas of the Gururgam district, out of which at least 13 sites are encroached upon. Members of the Muslim community also demanded land in developing sectors for the construction of mosques.
Rajaka alleged that the issue of namaz has been turned into a political issue to pitch one community against the other, and said that changes can be adopted to maintain peace.
The development comes a day after members of a Hindu right-wing group announced that they would perform Govardhan Puja and organise a Bhandara (community kitchen) at the namaz site in Sector 12. Earlier, members of the Muslim community offered prayers at Sector 47, but following protests by residents, they were allotted a site in Sector 12A. However, the protests continued there as well.
Members of right-wing organisations have been protesting against namaz being offered in the open since September. Following a memorandum submitted to the administration by a consortium of Hindu groups — demanding that the practice be stopped — on October 26, the police were deployed to protect those offering prayers last Friday.
Last Friday, at least 35 people associated with different Hindu groups were detained by the police for trying to disrupt namaz in Sector 12A on Friday afternoon, as more than 500 officers were deployed at five designated namaz sites. No violence was reported and prayers were offered peacefully, the police said.
Rajaka said they have submitted a list of the 19 Waqf Board sites and requested the administration to free the land parcels from encroachments. “We have requested the existing mosques, which are few in number, to conduct multiple rounds of prayers on Friday to accommodate as many people as possible,” he said.
He said that individual members of the community have also offered their private plots for Friday prayers and that they may also choose to offer prayers at these sites provided locals do not have an issue with the same.
Haji Shehzad Khan, the chairman of Muslim Ekta Manch, said that they have been taking up the issue on the behalf of the community since 2018, and now and then, the issue flares up due to which they have decided to permanently end the practice. “Misinformation is being spread that those 37 sites, designated in 2018, were for only one day, but actually, it was for one day a week,” said Khan.
Khan said that they will cooperate with all the stakeholders concerned and offer prayers at the places identified by the authorities in consultation with all parties concerned.
Meanwhile, officials of the Gurugram district administration acknowledged the receipt of a memorandum in this regard.
Yash Garg, the deputy commissioner of Gururgam, said that they have received the memorandum and will come out with a solution at the earliest.
KK Rao, the commissioner of police, said that the police are well prepared to prevent escalation of the law and order situation and they are equipped to protect those offering prayers at the designated sites. “We took strict action against those who tried to disrupt namaz and tried to give it into a communal issue,” he said.
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