Updated: October 30, 2021 8:32:28 am
At least 25 protesters, including members of some right-wing outfits and local residents, were detained by police in Gurgaon after they attempted to disrupt Friday namaz at Sector 12 chowk on Friday.
At 12.25 pm, a group of protesters raising Jai Shri Ram slogans and carrying ‘administration wake up from slumber’ placards gathered near the traffic signal in Sector 12 and tried to march to the spot where namaz is offered.
Police had barricaded the adjacent road, and personnel initially dispersed a few people who tried to move to the spot.
As the group gathered across the road raising the slogan “Khule mein namaz band karo (stop namaz in the open)”, police intervened and bundled the protesters into a bus. Around 1.10 pm, four-five protesters again started sloganeering, and they were put up in a bus and detained.
Among those detained was advocate Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, a Sector 14 resident who was suspended from the BJP for anti-party activities. Bhardwaj had led protests in Sector 12 last week, claiming that the permission for namaz granted by the administration in 2018 was for a “short period of time” and conditional upon consent of local residents.
The sites in sectors 12 and 47 are in a list of designated sites decided in May 2018 by district administration in consultation with members of both communities.
A senior officer said, “The protesters were detained under preventive measures and taken to Sector 14 police station and later in the evening produced before DCP West.”
Ankita Choudhary, sub-divisional magistrate, Gurgaon, said people had been offering namaz at the Sector 12 site for over two years. “Some people tried to disrupt the namaz. So, we tried to convince them and asked them not to create a nuisance. After they did not pay heed to repeated warnings, they were detained as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order. Namaz was offered peacefully,” said the SDM.
She added that a few anti-social elements were trying to disturb harmony for their own benefit: “It is a part of an investigation who these protesters are. I do not think residents have an issue. We are trying to coordinate with RWAs and are consulting all parties to try and find a solution.”
Heavy police force had been deployed in the area after several outfits, including Sanyukta Hindu Sangharash Samiti, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, had issued an ultimatum to the administration, demanding a complete ban on offering of namaz in public places.
In a complaint to police last Friday, protesters had stated that they suspected that ‘Rohingyas or Bangladeshis’ may have infiltrated the group of people who prayed at these sites.
Altaf Ahmad, one of the co-founders of citizens’ collective, Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch, said, “Spreading hate, lies, raising slogans and disrupting Friday namaz has become a focal point for right-wing groups in Gurgaon. They have been making false allegations that Muslims offering namaz are outsiders. The fact is they are all locals — working as daily wagers in car repair and workshops in the area — who come here during lunch break to pray. They can’t afford to go to far off places.”
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