Amid Tensions, Kapil Mishra Attends Govardhan Puja at Gurugram Namaz Site
Hindu right-wing groups organised a puja at the site of Friday namaz in Gurugram's Sector 12 on 5 November.
Hindu right-wing groups and locals have upped the ante over the issue of Friday namaz being offered in open spaces in Gurugram, with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kapil Mishra attending the Govardhan puja, which was held at the site of Friday prayers in Sector 12 on Friday, 5 November.
The event was organised by the Sanyukta Hindu Sangharsh Samiti (SHSS), an umbrella body that comprises 22 Hindu right-wing outfits like the Bajrang Dal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Hindu Kranti Dal, Arya Samaj, and Sanatan Dharam among others.
The pooja was organised amid weeks of protests and demonstrations at several locations in the city by locals and right-wing groups against Friday namaz being offered in open spaces by the Muslim community.
The Gurugram administration on Tuesday, 2 November, even withdrew permission for performing namaz at eight of the 37 designated sites, citing objection by locals and ordered that namaz will not be performed at any open space that is not a designated site to do so.
Govardhan Puja, Kapil Mishra's Attendance: What's the Intention?
Earlier, speaking to The Quint, SHSS Haryana chief Mahavir Bhardwaj said that Mishra was approached in order to "inspire the outfits in their struggle."
"Kapil Mishra is a leader of the Hindus and he fights for the rights of the community. We are an organisation comprising of Hindu outfits, so we have invited him to inspire us for our ongoing struggle. Senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Surendra Jain will also be present," Bhardwaj had said.
While the Muslim community said that 37 sites were allotted in 2018 by the Haryana government for them to offer Friday prayers after similar incidents, Hindu groups and locals have been claiming that those sites had not been allotted permanently.
"The Govardhan puja is our tradition. We have been struggling to abolish namaz in open and public spaces. They have been gathering at these 37 sites and the police have been providing them with protection. Any such activities should be done within the ambit of the law. They have been wrongfully claiming that they were allotted 37 sites to offer prayers. But these 37 sites were never permanent and the authorities too have said so," he said.
Bhardwaj had claimed that the number of sites would be reduced further in the coming weeks.
He had also said that 4,000-5,000 people were expected to attend the puja on Friday.
'Can See What Direction They're Taking': Muslims To Decide Further Course
Meanwhile, members of the Muslim community met on Thursday at the Rajiv Chowk Masjid (Eidgah) to choose representatives who shall engage with the administration in the future.
"The Muslim community is shocked to know that administration has cancelled eight points from the 37 spots of Jumma namaz agreed upon in 2018," said Altaf Ahmad, one of the representatives of the Muslim community. Ahmad is also a member of the Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch.
Asked about Mishra's attendance at the event, Ahmad had said that the community was now getting a gist of the directions that the whole issue was likely to take.
"They can have the puja there (Sector 12). We will not be offering namaz at Sector 12 this Friday because of the festivities. We don't want to escalate the matter and reach a point of confrontation over celebrations," he said.
Ahmad had further said that the authorities were under tremendous pressure from the right-wing groups.
"We have been told that the law and order situation is what matters the most and decisions will be taken accordingly," he said.
Ahmad said that a decision specific to the Sector 12 namaz site was yet to be taken by the authorities and that no alternate site had been provided yet.
'Want Cases Against Protesters To Be Withdrawn'
On 26 October, cases were filed by the Gurugram police against 25 people who attempted to disrupt Friday prayers in Sector 12. Protesters had raised slogans of Bharat Mata Ki Jai and Jai Shri Ram ahead of the namaz scheduled at 1 pm. They had also raised slogans against the Haryana government for allowing namaz to be offered in open spaces.
"We will not allow namaz to be performed in open spaces in Gurugram. By cancelling only eight sites, the authorities are trying to pacify the situation and sideline the demands. The cancellation should happen for all the so-called 37 sites," Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, a lawyer at the forefront of the protests, had said. Bhardwaj was also counselling the SHSS, the group that was leading the protests and holding negotiations with the authorities.
"In the meeting held on Tuesday, the administration has promised us that cases against us will be withdrawn. I don't know if they have done it so far," Bhardwaj had said.
Gurugram Administration Constitutes Committee
The Gurgaon administration had constituted a committee comprising members of the Hindu and Muslim communities, along with a sub-divisional magistrate and an ACP-level police officer to identify and list the sites for the Muslim community to offer namaz.
In a statement issued, the Gurugram police had said that the committee would ensure that namaz was not offered on any road, crossing or a public place.
"The decision to identify or designate a spot for namaz will only be taken after taking consent from local residents and ensuring that the residents of the area do not have any opposition to offering of namaz in that area," the police had said, adding that prayers can be offered at "any mosque, Eidgah or a private/designated place.”
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