Gurgaon: Manohar Lal Khattar bars namaz in open
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Friday said that prayers by Muslims in open spaces “will not be tolerated” and withdrew consent to Friday namaz at designated open-air sites in Gurgaon.
His announcement came after serial disruptions, by Hindutva groups and residents, of open-air Jumma namaz since September.
“Such (religious) programmes should not happen in the open,” Khattar told reporters.
“Namaz in open spaces, which has happened here, will not be tolerated at all. An amicable solution will be found by sitting together.”
Police have been protecting open-air Friday prayers in the face of disruptions by Hindutva activists who use loudspeakers and play Hindu devotional songs during namaz, or perform puja at these spots at the time of namaz.
Last month, the district administration withdrew consent to eight of the 37 designated sites where Muslims offered Friday prayers in the absence of enough mosques.
These 37 sites, which included three Muslim institutions, had been earmarked by the administration in 2018 after protests by Hindutva groups.
Before this, Friday and Id prayers were offered at 106 open spaces in addition to mosques, almost all of which are in older parts of the city.
On December 11, Friday prayers were reportedly offered at only 14 open spaces.
“There is some property that is their (Muslims’) own or is of the waqf (board) that have been encroached on and which can be made available to them for prayers,” the BJP chief minister said.
“(Owing to) prayers in the open, there should not be confrontation under any circumstance. By sitting together, a decision was made on this but we have withdrawn that decision to reserve some places (for prayers). With fresh talks, let everyone get facilities, and let no one interfere in anyone else’s rights. No one will be allowed to do this by force.”
Gurgaon is home to 26 Muslim institutions where namaz is offered but only two of them are in the newer parts of the city, where most jobs exist. These two mosques are mired in litigation, preventing further construction on them to accommodate more worshippers.
Altaf Ahmad of the Gurugram Muslim Council said: “Muslims of Gurgaon are forced to offer the Jumma namaz in the open as the Haryana Shehri Vikas Pradhikaran has not allocated land to us. All our applications get rejected and earnest money refunded, including our latest application submitted in October 2021.
“The waqf board and the (district) administration have been unable to get waqf properties back from encroachers for a very long time. Now, as the chief minister has said that the approved open-air sites need to be reworked between the administration and the Muslim community, we request him to instruct the HSVP to allocate us land in multiple sectors to build multi-storey mosques. That shall be the end of the Jumma namaz row.”
During the disruptions, the council had lodged complaints against three Hindutva leaders for inflammatory statements, but no FIR has been registered although the police took one of them into preventive detention.
The council said: “(The) town planning (department) has allocated 42 or more temples and 18 or more gurdwaras; however only one piece of land in Sector 57 was given by the state government to build a masjid.”
A gurdwara official and a private citizen had offered their premises for Muslims to hold prayers. Resistance from a segment of Sikhs, and alleged threats to the private citizen, led Muslims to eventually keep off both places.
“I’m hoping that within this week we shall work out those places where we will pray until we are offered something permanent,” Ahmad told The Telegraph.
“This is just one of several acts happening around the country, particularly in BJP-ruled states. It’s a collective failure.”