Jumma Namaz: Efforts to find an amicable solution in Gurugram are unsuccessful

Lack of mosques to cater for the growing Muslim population, both residential and floating, adds to the problem

Jumma Namaz’s offer in an open commercial space in Upscale Sector 47 near Bakhtawar Chowk has been the subject of controversy for nearly a month now. Protests by local residents have escalated with each passing Friday and the administration’s efforts to find an amicable solution by bringing the two sides to a negotiating table have so far proved unsuccessful.

Last Friday, several local residents, including women, gathered at the site for a Jumma Namaz, preempting the Namazis, chanting Hanuman Chalisa and playing bhajans on a portable music system. Holding signs against Namaz in the open, they quickly started marching towards the Namazis, but the police, deployed to the site, rushed in to arrest them.

Protesters then turned to local news channels and print journalists at the site, accusing the police and administration of taking sides and vowing to return next Friday with greater force.

Gathering of “foreigners”

Spearheading the protests, local councilor Kuldeep Yadav argued that residents were not against any religion, but opposed to gathering “foreigners” in their residential neighborhood. He also argued that the site was intended for a market and that it should be built sooner rather than later. Sector 47 RWA President Sunil Yadav, holding a pile of papers, claimed that the authorization to detain Jumaa Namaaz on the said land had only been granted for one day in 2018, and that it was continuing illegally. He also objected to the administration having designated the venue for the holding of Namaz without the consent of local residents.

Some demonstrators also claimed that the identity of the Namazis was not known and that they represented a “security threat”.

In two rounds of meetings between the two sides initiated by the administration and the police last week, local residents demanded that Namaz Square be moved outside Sector 47 and suggested an open space. near Subhash Chowk as an alternative.

Altaf Ahmad, who was part of the talks on behalf of his community, said the site was designated by the administration for detaining Namaz and moving to another location for no good reason made no sense. “The inhabitants have no valid reason to ask us to move elsewhere. And this is not going to help in any way because the demonstrations do not concern the place but target the community itself. Local authorities had designated thirty places for Namaz after the demonstrations of some Hindu groups against Namaz in the open air in 2018. But there have been new demonstrations since March of this year led by Dinesh Bharti, head of Bharat Mata Vahini. He succeeded in arresting Jumma Namaaz at Sectors 39, 40 and 43 in March and April. The community registered an FIR against him on April 16, but he is not discouraged, ”said Mr. Ahmad, also co-founder of Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch, a civil society group working for community harmony in the city. .

Part of a “bigger plot”

He alleged that the protests in Sector 47 over the past month were not an isolated case, but were part of a “bigger plot”. Mr. Kuldeep Yadav, however, refuted the allegations saying they had nothing to do with protests against Namaz elsewhere in the city.

Aman Yadav, ACP, Sadar Bazar, said efforts are underway to find a solution and two rounds of meetings have already taken place. Mr. Yadav told media that there had been no “information” or “formal complaints” of teasing or crime on this site. He said fake news was being disseminated on social media to vitiate the atmosphere and that action had been taken against these people in the past.

Ritu Raj, spokesperson for Shiv Sena, Haryana, said the administration agreed in 2018 to gradually reduce the number of designated Namaz squares and remove parks and public places from the list, but this has failed. been done. Contrary to his claims, Ahmad said the administration reduced the number of places open for Namaz to around 30 in 2018, including three mosques, from around 100 previously. “In fact, the administration assured us in 2018 that the list of Jumma places can be increased once the dust settles and the negotiators give in to the administration’s request,” he said.

Deputy Leader of the Legislative Party of Congress and MP for Nuh Aftab Ahmed also wrote to Chief Minister Manohar Lal earlier this month asking him to intervene in the matter and ask local authorities to deal strictly with the troublemakers who disrupt Friday prayers. The former Haryana transport minister, in his letter, said such incidents were on the increase in the state in recent years.

The lack of mosques to cater for the growing Muslim population, both residential and floating, especially in New Gurugram, adds another dimension to the problem.

Thanks to growing employment opportunities, both for high-skilled and low-skilled jobs in the Millennium City, the Muslim population has grown over the past decade and is estimated to be around five lakhs. But there are only two mosques – Anjuman Jama Masjid, Sector 57 and Rajiv Chowk Masjid – in New Gurugram to cater for the growing population. While the capacity of Anjuman Masjid is only 400, the Rajiv Chowk Masjid is in dispute and any further construction is not allowed.

“The Muslim community requested mosques at three separate sites in Sectors 43, 50 and 52 in 2016, however, once the interview process was completed, the administration rejected all of our requests and returned the deposit. We re-applied in October, ”said Ahmad.

Motivated individual leaders

One of the members of Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch said that the series of events over the past few years, including the protests against Jumma Namaz started in 2018, targeting meat shops during Navaratri, and more recently a public meeting in Patadui targeting the minority community and now the renewed protests seemed linked and aimed at keeping the problem on the boil.

“Most of these incidents are motivated by individual leaders… there are people who want to become leaders because of it. But it also appears that there is tactical support from behind. For me, these are small experiences to see what kind of impact they create. If it works and gets attention, he gets more support. While the 2018 incidents took place in the run-up to the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections, these protests are now occurring at a time when the farmers’ protests are taking place at the Delhi borders, ”the member said, ne not wanting to be identified.

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