Gurugram Namaz Row: Citizens Demand Action Against 'Attempts to Disrupt Peace'

“The only issue is that they don’t like to see Muslims in public spaces," a protester said.

4 min read

"Namaz ke bahane, nafrat ki rajneeti band karo!"

"Dharam ke naam par desh ko baatna band karo!"

"Jaat-dharam par nahi batenge, ek rahe hain, ek rahenge!"

The area outside the Divisional Commissioner's Office in Gurugram's Civil Lines, next to Epiphany Church, on Wednesday, 1 December, was more crowded than it usually would be. About 50 citizens had set stage for peaceful protests on the pavement nearby, while the morning traffic on the other side continued undisturbed.

The protesters holding placards with messages of religious unity and communal harmony sat on carpets and mats, raising slogans like 'Inquilab Zindabad!' and 'Hindu-Muslim bhai bhai!'

They were associated with several citizens' groups who had come together to demonstrate against months of disruptions and protests by right-wing Hindutva groups against Muslims offering Friday prayers in open spaces of the city.

“The only issue is that they don’t like to see Muslims in public spaces," a protester said.

“The only issue of these groups is that they don’t like to see Muslims in public spaces. They should also ask how it reflects on their religion if it's becoming just a way for them to stop someone else from practising their faith," Sumeir, a local resident who participated in the protest told The Quint.

“One important part of Islam is congregational prayers, just like you have mass in Christianity and similar events in other religions. Gurugram doesn’t have enough mosques, which is why Muslims have to offer the Friday prayers at the designated open spaces. Meanwhile, any attempts to build mosques have been blocked by the courts or right-wing groups."

'Protest To Demonstrate Our Goodwill, Brotherhood'

The protest on Wednesday was called under the banner of Democratic Forum, consisting of organisations such as Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Lawyers Union (AILU), Janwadi Mahila Samiti, All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) among others.

“I’ve been born and brought up here in Gurgaon. We even had farm lands here, where Muslims used to offer their prayers; neither my ancestors, nor my parents ever objected to this," Vinod Kumar Bharadwaj, the Gurugram secretary of AILU said.

“Our protest here is to demonstrate our goodwill, brotherhood, and our unity," he added.

“The only issue is that they don’t like to see Muslims in public spaces," a protester said.

Members of citizen's groups raising slogans of communal harmony.

(Photo: The Quint)

Further countering the narrative of 'Muslims occupying public spaces', he said, “Several religious festivities take place on roads but there’ s no objection to it. It’s not people’s mindset that’s corrupted. It is the political wind that is corrupting people to set the atmosphere for Uttar Pradesh’s elections.”

Meanwhile, Surender Singh, Haryana state secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) – CPI(M), told The Quint, “Hindutva groups, with the support and protection of the administration, have been creating an atmosphere of hatred and violence in the name of protesting namaz.”

"Even the Chief Minister and the Home Minister speak the language of these groups. And then you have BJP spokespersons like Suraj Pal Amu. The government has come into power swearing on the Constitution and they should work to protect it. Unfortunately, because they have lost on issues of inflation, employment, rozi-roti, they are playing this game to protect their politics," Singh added.

The protest came a day after a Muslim group on 30 November, filed a complaint against three leaders of Hindu right-wing groups for allegedly making inflammatory speeches over Friday namaz in open spaces in Gurugram.

Mufti Mohd Salim, who was one of the people to file the complaint, was also present at the protest. Speaking to The Quint, he said that people need to put up a united front against hate.

“Goons and rioters who have been trying to disrupt the communal harmony should understand that there is still enough love left in our country that whenever there is hatred, we’ll get together and protest against it.”
Mufti Mohd Salim

'Diversion From Real Issues'

Former Rajya Sabha MP Mohammad Adeeb addressed the protesters and said that attempts were made to divert the country from the "real issues."

“How do we feel pride for our country when a person celebrates killing another, when the oppressor cannot hear the sobs of the downtrodden? It is that this is where our mulk – our country has come,” he added.

“The only issue is that they don’t like to see Muslims in public spaces," a protester said.

Former MP Mohd Addeb.

(Photo: The Quint)

Later in the afternoon, Tehsildar Darpan Singh Kamboj arrived to speak to the protesters. Stating that the administration is not under any pressure, he assured the protesters that the administration will take action against those found guilty of disrupting communal harmony.

“The only issue is that they don’t like to see Muslims in public spaces," a protester said.

A memorandum was submitted to the administration.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

The protesters submitted a memorandum to Kamboj, to be given to the Haryana governor, listing the following demands:

  • Stop the toxic campaign being run against minorities

  • Take action against criminals involved in such communal activities

  • Victims and those who support them should be protected

  • Arrests made under false cases with harsh sections should be stopped

  • The administration should ensure that the places that were designated by it to the Muslim community for Friday prayers, are not taken away from them.

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