India: Hindu groups continue to disrupt Muslim prayers in Gurgaon | Islamophobia News

Right-wing Hindu groups have been protesting for more than two months Muslims offer Friday prayers The public places in Gulgram—less than an hour’s drive from the Indian capital of New Delhi—aroused anger and anxiety among ethnic minorities.

Last Friday, demonstrators parked nearly a dozen trucks at one of the prayer locations in District 37 of Gurgaon in the northern state of Haryana, which is governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. (Indian Bharatiya Janata Party).

When a group of Muslims arrived for a weekly group prayer, a group of Hindu men began chanting religious slogans, including paying tribute to Lord Ram, questioning believers, and saying that prayers would not be allowed-all of which were under tight police security Under the circumstances.

According to the 2011 census, Gurgaon has a population of 1.1 million and is a financial and technological center, where many multinational companies have offices. Less than 5% of residents are Muslims.

Faced with a shortage of mosques, Muslims in Gurgaon have been conducting Friday prayers in parks and open spaces for years, with proper approval from the authorities. Approximately 100 such websites are designated for this purpose.

But in recent months, continued protests by Hindu groups have disrupted prayer activities, prompting city officials to withdraw permits for most venues.

Muslims pray in the parking lot of the 37th district during the protests in Gulgram [Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images]

‘No prayer here’

In a video that went viral last Friday, someone saw a Hindu police officer named Dinesh Bharti questioning a Muslim imam named Shehzad Khan. He said in Hindi: “Namaz nahi hogi yahan (There will be no prayers here). He was dragged away by the police and was reportedly later arrested for inciting and disturbing public order.

Indian media reported that Batty was also arrested earlier on similar charges.

Since mid-September, right-wing Hindu groups under the banner of Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti (Joint Hindu Struggle Committee) have been disrupting Friday prayers in Gurgaon, once spreading cow dung in one place and sometimes holding Hindu prayers.

“We are not opposed to namaz (prayer), but we are opposed to providing namaz in public places,” Umbrella spokesperson Rajiv Mittal told Al Jazeera.

“We have no problem with Muslims providing namaz in mosques, religious schools (religious schools) or Waqf land or property. If namaz is provided in anyone’s private property, we have no problem either.”

Waqf refers to donations made by Muslims to religion, education or charity.

Mittal said his organization will not allow any prayers in public places in Gurgaon next Friday.

“We have issued an ultimatum to the government, we will not allow namaz [in the open] Anywhere [in Gurugram] December 10,” he told Al Jazeera.

However, Muslims stated that they had been praying in public places for many years due to the “insufficient” number of mosques in the city.

Altaf Ahmed, the co-founder of the Gurgaon Muslim Council, told Al Jazeera: “We pray in open spaces because of coercion, not because of choice.”

“There are only 13 mosques in operation in the entire Gurgaon area,” he said.

Ahmed said that until three years ago, there were at least 108 open spaces in the city for Muslims to pray. He said that the first outage occurred in May 2018, and the number of Friday prayer sites was reduced to 37.

“This number was further reduced to about 20 last month,” he said.

Mufti Mohamed Salim, chairman of the local branch of Jamiat Ulema E-Hind, the main organization of Islamic scholars, told Al Jazeera, “Namaz did not happen even in these 20 designated locations because members of right-wing groups have already arrived there. , Block or destroy the website”.

“Last Friday, only 13 or 14 sites offered namaz,” he said. “We are not sure if they will allow namaz in any public place next Friday.”

Indian Muslims perform Friday prayers in open space in Gurgaon [Pradeep Gaur/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images]

A recent report on the website stated that the city has at least eight such “flashpoints”, including corporate blocks in Districts 43 and 44, call centers in Districts 39 and 40, residential areas and factories in District 18, and The car market in District 12, the wealthy apartments in the third phase of the DLF community, and the relatively rudimentary residential areas and factories in District 37.

Muslims ask to build mosque land

In October, India’s powerful Interior Minister Amit Shah accused the main opposition Congress Party of implementing “appeasement politics” by allowing Muslims to pray on the road.

“Earlier, when I came here during the Congress Party’s administration, someone told me that the government had allowed the Namaz Expressway on Friday. Congress only does appeasement and cannot do any welfare work for the people,” Shah said. Uttarakhand, which is also under the control of the People’s Party, said in a speech.

The continued destruction of Hindu groups has become a cause of concern for Muslims in Gurgaon. Salim said the city government “should take this issue seriously” and prevent these groups from blocking more websites.

“We are avoiding any confrontation with these groups. We have asked our people not to engage in any verbal quarrels or any confrontations with them,” he said.

“If the government stops them before reaching the place of prayer, there will be no conflict.”

Last month, the Gurgaon government revoked the permits of 8 out of 37 designated public prayer places on the grounds of “opposition” from residents in the area.

Yash Garg, Gurugram’s deputy police commissioner, told Al Jazeera that Muslims pray at these 37 locations without “written permission” and that this was only done through the “community understanding” reached in 2018.

“There is no official permission because it is not a matter of rights in public places,” Gag said. “The police have been at the scene. The person who tried to sabotage has been arrested.”

Ahmed of the Gurgaon Muslim Council said that if the government provides land to build a new mosque, Muslims are prepared to stop praying in open spaces.

“We are not asking for land for free. We are ready to pay. But if they don’t provide us with land to build a mosque, where do we go to pray?” he asked.

Local Muslims say that many Waqf properties in Gurgaon have been invaded and they hope the government will return them to the community.

At the same time, civil society in Gurgaon has been trying to find a solution to the crisis. Last month, a local Indian businessman provided his place for Friday prayers and also opened some gurdwaras (Sikh temples) for the community.

Muslim groups hope that the opposition will raise this issue in the ongoing parliamentary meeting.

“The right-wing groups not only disrupted Friday’s prayers, but also deprived Muslims of their dignified prayers. Ahmed said this was an attempt to deliberately undermine the peace prayers and community harmony in this cosmopolitan city.

At the end of Friday prayers last week, Imam Shezad Khan prayed for community harmony between Hindus and Muslims.

“Muslims are Indian citizens just like Hindus. Our ancestors made great sacrifices for the freedom of this country,” he said with his hands folded.

“Oh God, please guide Hindus and Muslims to maintain unity in brotherhood.”

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