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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Namaz row simmers again as another group objects to Friday prayers in Gurgaon’s Sarhaul

At Sector 12A, a group of over 20 people, including some who were arrested for attempting to disrupt namaz a fortnight ago, occupied the site and claimed they will build a volleyball court there.

Written by Pavneet Singh Chadha | Gurgaon |
Updated: November 12, 2021 10:59:16 pm
Right wing groups keeping vigil at namaz site in Sector 12, Gurgaon, where Govardhan Puja was held last week. (Express Photo)

Protests by right-wing groups against namaz in public places continued in Gurgaon on Friday, with over 80 people objecting to prayers being offered at a park in Sarhaul, one of sites currently designated for the prayers. Following this, police said, namaz was offered at a different location.

At Sector 12A, a group of over 20 people, including some who were arrested for attempting to disrupt namaz a fortnight ago, occupied the site and claimed they will build a volleyball court there. Last week, a Govardhan Puja was organised by the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, which comprises 22 local right-wing outfits and has been spearheading the protests, at the same location.

According to police sources, around 12.30 pm, a group of men – some from Sarhaul village and some affiliated with a group called ‘Manavta Sangathan’ – occupied the park, which is in a list of places previously agreed upon for namaz in 2018.

Sudhir Kumar, SHO of the Sector 17/18 police station, said: “Most protesters were from Sarhaul village and they said religious prayers should not be offered in the park. They said they had submitted an application to the deputy commissioner and requested people who had come to offer prayers to go elsewhere. The Muslim community members left after a discussion… The situation was peaceful and there was no law-and-order issue. We have directed the protesters to keep their demands in front of the committee that has been formed on this issue.”

Police sources said that last Friday, the same group had disrupted prayers at another site near a diagnostic lab in the same area.
Parveen Yadav, who claimed to be the chairman of the Manavta Sangathan, said, “If they have a right to pray in a park, we also have a right to protest there. It is our view that prayers should only be offered in places of worship or at home… or on properties of Waqf board. The matter was discussed for over an hour, following which they left.” He added that Friday namaz was being offered in the park for over a year. He claimed they were not linked to any political party or other outfit.

Sachin Yadav, vice-chairman of the group, said they formed the “social organisation” three weeks ago. “Local residents and some private company workers who work in the area were hassled by this issue, so we have raised it.”

At the Sector 12 site, Vir Yadav, who was among the people arrested on October 29, said, “We will make a volleyball court here. We have come here to plan, set up a net and arrange lights. A tournament will be held here soon. We will not allow namaz to happen in public places — here or anywhere in the city.”

Pramila Chahar, who was also detained, said: “Residents of this area are opposed to namaz being offered in Sector 12. It creates traffic and security issues.”

Muslim groups said they discussed the issue with the deputy commissioner and decided not to offer namaz at Sector 12A Chowk. Muslim Ekta Manch chairman Shehzad Khan said, “Over the next week, we will discuss the issue with officials and Hindu groups. Till a solution is found, we decided to not offer namaz at Sector 12A. People from the area prayed at a mosque near Sheetla Mata temple today.”

Altaf Ahmad, co-founder of the Gurgaon Muslim Council, added, “The jumma namaz disruptions will not end unless the government allocates land for building mosques.”

Despite repeated attempts, Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner Yash Garg could not be reached for a comment.

On November 2, the district administration had withdrawn permission for namaz at eight of the 37 previously agreed upon sites citing “objection from local residents and RWAs”.

In a statement, the administration had said the committee would ensure that namaz is not offered on any road, crossing or a public place. “The decision to identify or designate a spot for namaz will only be taken after taking consent from local residents and ensuring that residents of the area do not have any opposition to offering of namaz in that area,” the statement had said.

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