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Monday, November 29, 2021

Across the divide in Gurgaon, gurdwaras offer space for namaz

Describing the offer as “gracious”, Mufti Mohammad Saleem, president of the Jamiat Ulama in Gurgaon, said they met representatives of the gurdwaras Wednesday, and decided to offer namaz at Sector 39 and Sadar Bazar this Friday.

Written by Pavneet Singh Chadha | Gurgaon |
Updated: November 18, 2021 5:49:43 pm
Across the divide in Gurgaon, gurdwaras offer space for namazGurgaon has seen protests against namaz in public places. (File)

Days after the administration in Gurgaon cited “objections from local residents and RWAs” and withdrew permission for Friday prayers by the Muslim community at eight of the 37 sites agreed upon earlier, a committee overseeing five gurdwaras in this Haryana district bordering Delhi has offered their premises for the namaz.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Sherdil Singh Sidhu, president of the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Sabzi Mandi, Gurgaon, said: “A gurdwara is the house of the Guru. People from all communities are welcome to come here and pray. If the Muslim community is facing problems in praying at designated sites, they can offer prayers in the gurdwaras. The doors of gurdwaras are open to all.”

The five gurdwaras in Gurgaon under the committee’s administration are located in Sadar Bazar, Sector 39, Sector 46, Model Town and Jacobpura.

“We are celebrating the birth anniversary of our first Guru (Guru Nanak Dev) on Friday. These gurdwaras can accommodate over 2,000 people, but we have proposed that people pray in small batches of 30-40 and maintain social distancing on account of Covid,” said Sidhu, adding that official permission will be taken if required.

Describing the offer as “gracious”, Mufti Mohammad Saleem, president of the Jamiat Ulama in Gurgaon, said they met representatives of the gurdwaras Wednesday, and decided to offer namaz at Sector 39 and Sadar Bazar this Friday. “This is a very welcome step and will go a long way in promoting harmony among communities,” said Saleem.

On Tuesday, a 40-year-old shopowner in Gurgaon’s Sector 12, Akshay Yadav, had offered his vacant premises for namaz. Yadav had told The Indian Express that 15 people had offered namaz at his shop last Friday.

In a statement, Altaf Ahmad, co-founder of Gurgaon Muslim Council, said that the community appreciated these offers. “This is a true example of brotherhood where people from multiple faiths have come forward to defeat divisive forces, who have been spreading hatred and communal disharmony in Gurgaon over the last two months,” he said.

On November 2, the district administration had said that the decision to identify or designate a spot for namaz will only be taken after obtaining consent from local residents and ensuring that there is no opposition in the area.

In recent months, some local residents and pro-Hindutva groups have disrupted Friday prayers in some public places in Gurgaon.

Last Friday, a group affiliated with Sanyukta Hindu Sangharsh Samiti had camped at a previously agreed upon site in Sector 12 A, claiming to make a volleyball court there. Another group had occupied a park in Sarhaul, forcing members of Muslim community to offer prayers elsewhere.

Ahmad said the government should take cognizance and allocate land “at the earliest” for mosques to be built. “It is a sad state of affairs when a handful of people do not understand that Muslims are forced to offer their obligatory Juma Namaz in the open due to a lack of enough mosques in Gurgaon,” he said.

Sherdil Singh Sidhu said: “A few people are trying to spread hatred for their political agendas. All the communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians — made sacrifices during the freedom struggle. There should be no objection to people offering prayers.”

Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner Yash Garg could not be reached for comment.

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