Hindutva vigilante mobs, are perhaps celebrating that the Gurugram administration has ‘listened’ to them and withdrawn the permission to offer namaz at eight public sites. The administration has cited “objection from local residents and resident welfare associations” as the reason for doing so.
There were 37 designated sites approved by administration, before some local residents backed by Hindutva groups began objecting to the congregational Muslim prayers. The cancelled sites are listed thus: Bengali Basti in Sector 49, V block DLF phase 3, Surat Nagar Phase 1, outside Kheri Majra village, near Daulatabad village on Dwarka Expressway, Sector 68 near Ramgarh village, near DLF square tower, from Rampur village to the Nakhrola road. According to news reports, there is still no decision taken yet on the designated namaz sites in Sector 47 and Sector 12-A. These two spots were the focus of the Hindutva group’s ‘protests’.
According to news reports, the Gurugram administration has formed a committee comprising a Sub-Divisional Magistrate, an Assistant Commissioner-level police officer, members of Hindu and Muslim communities and social organisations. This committee will decide the final list of places where namaz would be offered in the city. It issued a statement to declare that the committee will “take decisions after consulting all stakeholders and taking consent from local residents. Namaz can be offered at any mosque, Idgah or a private place.”
Why did the administration cave in?
With chants of “Jai Shri Ram” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, Hindutva groups had disrupted Friday namaz in Gurugram for over four weeks in a row. On Friday, October 29, Gurugram police reportedly detained around 30 people. Gurugram has designated spots where Muslims offer namaz. Of late, right-wing groups have been protesting wherever Muslims have gathered for prayers.
According to news reports, Muslims offering prayer on a private property in Gurgaon’s Sector 12-A “had to deal with a massive crowd that gathered shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans.” This next week too the right-wing crowds of “protesters” chanted their slogans, taunting the local administration, to “wake up.” There was heavy police deployment in Sector 12-A and around 30 protesters were detained. This area had seen such right-wing protests earlier as well. The SDM Anita Chaudhary had then said, “Everything is peaceful here. We have detained people who were here to disrupt namaz. We tried to negotiate with them over the last few weeks (but) have taken swift action today,” adding, “People have offered namaz in 37 designated places (and) full protection will be given to people who are offering namaz.”
However, on November 2 DC Dr Yash Garg told the media that the administration “cut down the number of public areas being used for namaz and in reviewing other sites by talking to local residents and both communities. We will peacefully resolve the issue”. According to a news report, the Hindu outfit Sanyukt Hindu Mahasabha has welcomed the move, but refused to defer or cancel its plans of holding Govardhan Pooja at the namaz site in Sector 12-A. It too issued a media statement to confirm that its “pooja will happen as scheduled. It is not against any community but our prayer gathering at public site.”
Gurugram Nagrik Ekta Manch stands up against hate, offers space for dialogue
Standing up against the communal tensions that are being fanned in Gurugram is the Gurugram Nagrik Ekta Manch, an citizens initiative that has announced the launch of a public awareness campaign to counter hatred with reason, and counter fake news, false allegations with facts. It said, “A platform will be made available for those who disagree with the current campaign against the Friday namaz and who stand for a united Gurgaon for harmony and progress. We urge all residents to join this campaign to strengthen the spirit of togetherness.”
Daya Singh-ji, National President All India Peace Association speaking on how it is ridiculous how the offering of a 20-minute prayer can offend people. Shared instances of gurudwaras sharing their space for namaz. pic.twitter.com/Qgy1MQVGk4
— Arti Jaiman (@ArtiJaiman) November 3, 2021
According to Daya Singh National President All India Peace Association namaz was “just prayer, for the betterment of all” and Gurugram the city named Guru ka gram, or village of the guru, was named after Guru Dronacharya. “Was he of this mentality? I was born in kurukshetra. I know all that goes on there. I don’t see any offence in the namaz. It’s a prayer so all stays well,” he said disturbed at how a prayer can offend people and added that there have been instances of gurudwaras sharing their space for namaz.
“As ordinary residents of Gurgaon we want our voice of sanity, peace and brotherhood/sisterhood to be loud and clear. Hate induced shrillness needs to be drowned by voices of peace and reason,” stated the Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch announcing the launch of a public awareness raising campaign on November one. The awareness campaign will be run online and offline and “a platform will be made available for all those who disagree with the current campaign against the Friday Namaaz and who stand for a united Gurgaon for harmony and progress.”
“Gurgaon is a melting pot of people from all backgrounds who have come here to make a life, and in doing so have made this city into one of the most cosmopolitan cities of India,” said Arti Jaiman, a journalist. The statement asked if the locals can even “afford to tarnish the image of Gurgaon internationally and the question is what would be the impact of such hatred on the business and industrial future of Gurgaon? Peace, harmony and safety are the three critical pillars on which industry and business survives and grows. The current attempt to break these pillars has serious implications for all Gurgaon residents and their future.”
The full statement may be read here: