A group of 20 people on Friday occupied a prayer site in Gurugram’s Sector 12A where Muslims usually offer namaz, reported The Indian Express. Muslims have been offering their Friday prayers at that site under police protection due to threats from various Hindutva outfits for the last few weeks.
The people who gathered at the site on Friday morning claimed to be setting up a volleyball court. However, there was no sign of any activity to build the court. The site still contained rows of cow dung, which were spread across the ground last week after right-wing groups organised a puja.
Some of the people who assembled at the ground were arrested two weeks ago for attempting to disrupt namaz, according to The Indian Express. Some of them were affiliated to an organisation called Manavta Sangathan.
“We are sitting here quietly... but will not allow prayers,” Parmila Chahar, one of those occupying the ground, told NDTV. “We will plan for a game here.”
Another person named Veer Yadav said that they will build a volleyball court for children to play. “We will not allow namaz, no matter what,” he told the news channel.
Muslim organisations said they will not offer prayers at this site on Friday. “We have told everyone that until we have an agreement with our Hindu brothers, we will not be offering prayers here,” said a member of one of the Muslim organisations. “DC [deputy commissioner] saheb has also given us a week.”
The ground falls under a list of places that were earmarked for namaz by the Gurugram district authorities in 2018.
“They [the protestors] said they had submitted an application to the deputy commissioner and requested people who had come to offer prayers to go elsewhere,” station house officer Sudhir Kumar told The Indian Express.
“The Muslim community members left after a discussion… The situation was peaceful and there was no law-and-order issue. We have directed the protesters to keep their demands in front of the committee that has been formed on this issue.”
Hindutva organisations have been protesting against Muslims praying in public places in several parts of Gurugram for over a month now.
On October 29, the police had detained 30 people following protests against the offering of namaz in Sector 12A. Demonstrators had disrupted Friday prayers in the same locality on October 22 as well.
On November 2, the Gurugram administration cancelled permission to offer namaz in eight public places in the city. The administration said that it took the decision on the basis of “objection from local residents and resident welfare associations”.
The eight sites where the permissions to offer Friday prayers have been revoked are Bengali Basti Sector 49, V block DLF Phase 3, Surat Nagar Phase 1, Kheri Majra village, near Daulatabad village on Dwarka Expressway, Sector 68 near Ramgarh village, near DLF Square Tower and the stretch between Rampur village to Nakhrola Road.
Last Friday, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra had attended a Govardhan Puja at the same site. He had spoken against the blocking of public space and asked people to not use roads “for their politics”.
Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar had said that everyone has a right to pray. However, he added that “those offering prayers should not block road traffic”.