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Gurugram mosque sealed after protest over loudspeaker

The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) on Wednesday sealed 11 buildings, including a mosque, in Sheetla Mata Colony, a week after residents had protested against the installation of a loudspeaker on the premises.

gurgaon Updated: Sep 13, 2018 03:27 IST
Kartik Kumar
Kartik Kumar
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Gurugram,mosque,loudspeaker
MCG officials said the buildings were sealed as they are located within the 300-metre radius of an Air Force ammunition depot in Sector 14, in violation of a Punjab and Haryana high court order.(HT Photo)

The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) on Wednesday sealed 11 buildings, including a mosque, in Sheetla Mata Colony, a week after residents had protested against the installation of a loudspeaker on the premises.

Local Muslims alleged that they are being singled out due to pressure from right-wing groups, whereas the MCG officials said that the buildings were sealed as they are located within the 300-metre radius of an Air Force ammunition depot in Sector 14, in violation of a Punjab and Haryana high court order.

On September 5, residents had protested outside the mosque following the installation of a loudspeaker on its premises, on the grounds that the prayers were too loud and caused a disturbance. They approached the Gurugram police, which acted as a mediator and asked the people inside the mosque to reduce the volume.

“Namaz has been offered here for the last four years. Initially, it was on a vacant plot and later, we constructed a building when we received funds. We assured the protesters at the time that we will reduce the volume and have continued to oblige since,” said Haji Shehzad Khan, chairman of Muslim Ekta Manch.

“If the building is indeed in violation of the HC order, so are some of the other religious buildings that have come up in the area over the last three years. Why has no action been taken against them? The community is being singled out under pressure from right-wing outfits. We will continue to sit here on a dharna until our demands are met and the seal is removed from the mosque,” he said.

It is the first instance in Gurugram wherein a religious site has been sealed, municipal officials said. The sealing was carried out amid heavy police deployment. “It was a routine drive and in accordance with the direction of the Punjab and Haryana high court in September 2015, which states that no new construction can be carried out in the 300-metre radius of IAF depots. We have carried out such drives in the past and today’s drive was no exception,” said Yashpal Yadav, commissioner of the MCG.

The MCG carried out the drive around noon and sealed the three-storey Medina Masjid, situated on lot 40 of street number 2. Officials said the building is a residential one.

Right-wing groups that had protested outside the mosque on September 5 distanced themselves from the MCG’s actions. “It is not a mosque, but a building that has been illegally constructed. Our protests were aimed at the loud volume only. We have no role in the action carried out by the MCG,” said Rajeev Mittal, spokesperson, Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Kranti Dal.

This is not the first instance in which religious issues have threatened to disturb the communal harmony. In April, six men had disrupted namaz being offered on a vacant plot in Sector 53, following which locations were designated for the same.

In April 2016, the district administration had to impose prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC in a three-kilometre radius of a 2.5-acre plot in Palam Vihar where namaz was being offered.

Following the sealing on Wednesday, over 30 members of the local Muslim community staged a day-long sit in front of the structure. “The MCG says that they have sealed our mosque because it is within 300 metres of an Air Force ammunition depot. However, there are dozens of homes, a church as well as a temple that should also have been sealed. Why wasn’t this done?” said Tabish Alam, who sat on the day-long dharna.

First Published: Sep 13, 2018 03:27 IST