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Communalism

For Fourth Straight Week, Namaz Offering in Gurugram's Sector 47 Faces Protests

The police had to cordon off the area after 70 to 80 protestors attempted to march towards the site where the Muslim community congregated, singing bhajans using a microphone and portable speaker.

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New Delhi: Muslims offering namaz in the open on Friday, October 15, in Gurugram’s Sector 47 faced protests from some people who attempted to reach the spot, prompting police to cordon off the area. This is the fourth consecutive week when Friday prayers by the Muslim community in the area have been targeted, according to a report by the Indian Express.

As a mark of protest, around 12:40 pm, 70 to 80 people attempted to march towards the site where the Muslim community congregated singing bhajans using a microphone and portable speaker. The protestors also raised slogans against the government for allegedly not stopping namaz from being offered in public places and open government lands.

The said site in Sector 47 in Gurugram is among the list of 37 designated sites locally where prayers could be offered in the open. The list of sites was a result of a negotiated settlement between Hindus and Muslims after similar disruptions for prayers in the open were reported in 2018. However, some residents claimed that such an arrangement was not permanent.

Also read: Hate Watch: Hindutva Leader Instigates Mob Against Namaz in Gurugram, Alleges ‘Land Jihad’

Sensing trouble on Friday, the police had asked Muslim community members offering namaz in Sector 47 to reach the site from the Subhash Chowk side, to avoid any possible confrontation between two religious communities.

“Prayers were offered peacefully. In the last week, we have held meetings with representatives of both communities and we are working towards resolving the issue,” Indian Express quoted Aman Yadav, ACP Sadar, as saying.

According to Muslim community members who have been coming to the prayer site for the last three years, the latest controversy is because of a few people who want to gain political mileage by causing disruption to prayers. The protestors did not relent even as the Muslim community moved 100 metres away from the original prayer site after police had instructed them when protests were witnessed first a few weeks back.

“This has only become an issue in the past few weeks. Some people who are trying to gain political mileage from this are creating a ruckus,” said Taufiq, who has been attending prayers regularly in Sector 47, according to the Indian Express.

Hindutva groups behind the anti-namaz campaign 

As The Wire reported earlier, one Dinesh Bharati a leader of the Hindutva group Bharat Mata Vahini is central to these protests. He was also arrested earlier for disrupting Friday prayers.

Bharati had said, “This is an international conspiracy. They are offering namaz as part of this conspiracy of… love jihad, land jihad. If we don’t raise our voice, they will build a mosque here.”

On September 24, he put out a video on his social media pages asking his followers to disperse Muslims offering namaz in the open. “If the government does not stop this, we will open a gaushala and a gurukul here, and build a Hanuman mandir here,” he was seen saying in the video.

On September 29, another video went viral in which a local resident was seen protesting against Muslims offering Friday namaz on public land. He claimed that due to the presence of Muslims locally, there had been an increase in the instances of sexual harassment against women. The video went viral on Twitter gaining a lot of traction among Hindutva supporters.

“By October 8, 2021, this had escalated into a full-scale protest at the area, with dozens of people carrying placards and shouting slogans to protest the Friday gathering,” The Wire had reported.

Ever since right-wing groups have continued to amplify the issue which actually began as a protest by not more than seven to eight people.

In 2018 also, there was a series of attacks on Muslims offering namaz in open spaces in Gurugram. A group of men attacked Muslims offering prayers at a public place and allegedly forced them to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Following this attack, the accusation of “land Jihad” against Muslim men in Haryana was made by controversial Hindutva leaders like Yati Narsinghanand.

Calling namaz in open spaces a state sanction, Narsinghanand had said, “This is a conspiracy to destroy Gurugram since it is a new economic hub.”