Members of right-wing Hindu groups on Friday prevented namaz congregations at several open spaces in Gurgaon by asking the faithful who had gathered there to leave.
These groups visited at least six spots in the city where namaz is offered every Friday — a vacant plot in Sector 53, where six men had tried to disrupt a namaz congregation on April 20 and called for a ban on namaz gatherings in the open, Atul Kataria Chowk, Sikanderpur, IFFCO Chowk, MG Road and a plot near Cyber Park.
Wajid Khan, who heads the Nehru Yuva Sangathan Welfare Society Charitable Trust, said the faithful had agreed not to offer prayers at three places during a meeting with the police chief on Thursday. “We were asked not to offer prayers at 34 places, of which we agreed to three — the plot in Sector 53, at Sikanderpur and Atul Kataria Chowk, where namaz gatherings cause traffic congestion,” he said.
Members of Hindu groups prevented prayers at three places near Cyber Park, at a plot near Sahara Mall and another spot at IFFCO Chowk. Police personnel had been deployed at these spots. “At the spot near Sahara Mall, first the police did not let us offer namaz. When we finally reached an understanding with them, a group of men came and told us to leave. When a man tried to take a photo, they grabbed his phone and broke it,” Khan said. “Even at IFFCO Chowk, they chanted slogans and asked us to leave. We will meet the police chief tomorrow and discuss the issue,” he added.
“Eight to 10 men came and asked us to leave. We have been reading namaz here for the last two years… we are not disturbing anyone,” said a resident of Jharsa village, who was among the faithful at a plot near Cyber Park. “We had directed all station house officers to deploy police personnel at certain spots to ensure there was no breach of law and order. We have not received any complaints so far,” said Ravinder Kumar, PRO, Gurgaon Police.
Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh said, “Adequate security arrangements were made at all spots. Attempts to disrupt prayers were handled effectively by the administration.”
In the wake of the threat, the district administration has directed that public land on which namaz is offered be secured and requested the Waqf Board to identify properties where prayers can be offered.
On the plot in question in Sector 53, where until last week namaz was offered every Friday, a notice board has been erected, informing people that the land “has been acquired by HUDA…” Chander Shekhar Khare, administrator of the Haryana Urban Development Authority, however, said, “The notice is part of a bigger scheme to protect our land from encroachment and reclaim it. We are also considering planting shrubs to cordon off the area as erecting walls would be too expensive,”said Khare.
Several outfits, under the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, have called for a ban on namaz in open spaces. These outfits include Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Kranti Dal, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, Hindu Sena, Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Gurugram Sanskritik Gaurav Samiti.