'Pura Gurgaon Baki Hai': Hindu Groups' Puja at Namaz Site, BJP Leaders Present

Along with Kapil Mishra and Suraj Pal Amu, VHP's Surendra Jain also attended Govardhan puja at Gurugram, Sector 12.

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A piece of land in Gurugram's Sector 12, mostly unused, was hustling on Friday, 5 November, a day after Diwali. A group of women from the Durga Vahini outfit were sculpting a replica of Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan hill at one corner of the open space, with a stage and chairs being erected next to it.

The replica, made of cow dung, was at the exact spot on the land where Muslims would offer Friday prayers until last week. The motive of the puja was to intensify the protests against namaz being offered in open spaces in Gurugram, that has seen disruptions of several prayers for weeks now.

This Friday, the protests got political backing, with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Kapil Mishra and Suraj Pal Amu in attendance, along with senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Surendra Jain.

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, Durga Vahini, and Sanatan Dharam among others.

While Mishra readily addressed the crowd, Amu declined the offer to speak. Both have created headlines in the past for their hate speeches.

"The SHSS has shown the way to the whole country. They protested within the ambit of the law for their freedom, they have struggled to unblock the streets of the country," said Mishra while addressing the crowd, that was jubilant with chants of 'Jai Shri Ram' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' at frequent intervals.

Govardhan puja at Gurugram, Sector 12

(Photo: Shiv Kumar Maurya/The Quint)

However, there was one chant that explained the intensity of the whole movement: "Sector 12 toh Jhanki hai, pura Gurgaon abhi baki hai!" (Sector 12 is just the beginning, the whole of Gurugram is yet to see a similar effect.)

Claims of 'Blocking Streets for Namaz'

The one claim that was frequently made at the event was that "the streets of Gurugram are being blocked to offer namaz".

Asked if there are any specific streets he knows of that were being blocked other than the 37 designated sites, Mishra claimed that those sites included streets as well.

"Blocking streets for namaz is not acceptable to the citizens of Gurugram anymore. They are snatching away the basic rights of the citizens. People need freedom to go to offices, hospitals, shops, etc. Blocking streets for religious reasons can't be acceptable anywhere in the world. This will not be tolerated here either," Mishra said.

"What are roads for? They should not be used for politics. We all saw what happened at Shaheen Bagh. They resorted to theatrics by blocking roads there as well. What happened to that movement? Was CAA repealed?" Mishra asked.

"This Govardhan puja should be taken as an example that if we start doing more poojas like these, there are more streets that can be closed down," Mishra warned, adding that Muslims "block streets" and offer namaz to show strength.


'Go to Pakistan'

Senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Surendra Jain's address, amid constant sloganeering, was filled with references to Pakistan.

"I was told that they are asking for land to offer namaz. A lot of land was given to you in 1947, you should go there to pray," Jain said, adding that "those who want to read namaz in the open can go to Pakistan".

Claiming that not just streets but even railway tracks at the New Delhi railway station were blocked during Eid, Jain said: "Not just Sector 12 or Gurugram, we will not allow namaz to be offered in open spaces anywhere in India."

"We will not give you one inch of land, enough is enough," he added.

At least 25 protesters, who were arrested at the same site last week following demonstrations were felicitated at the event today.

Lauding them as "warriors" and "freedom fighters" Jain said: "If they had not gotten arrested, the Hindus would not have taken to the streets today. I salute the warriors who made the Gurugram administration bow."

Speaking to The Quint exclusively after the speech, Jain said that 'it is not a religious issue'.

"This is not a religious issue, it's an issue of national significance. They are offering namaz at these places today, tomorrow they will ask for mosques to be constructed there," claiming that that's how Muslims got mosques constructed in the country even before independence.

'Allotment of 37 Sites a Facade Created for the Media'

Most leaders present in the event claimed that the 37 designated sites, which are being claimed by the Muslim community, is 'fake news'.

"The arrangement agreed upon in 2018 was only for a day. We kept telling the authorities and the media that the list they are showing is fake, but nobody listened to us," Mahavir Bhardwaj, state president of the SHSS told The Quint.

"This was a façade that was created for the media and the administration by them that 37 sites were allotted. Some Muslim leaders just printed a computerised letter and showed it to the media. But after we challenged it, the administration too investigated and told the Muslim leaders in the last meeting that there has been no list and namaz must be stopped at all sites," he alleged.

"They have asked for a month's time. They have reduced the site from 37 to 20 now. They will reduce further in coming weeks. They have surrendered now," he added.

The Gurugram administration on Tuesday, 2 November, 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 designated for it.


Muslims Refute 'Road Blocking' Claims; Hints of Rift over Representation

Altaf Ahmad, a member of the Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch said that nowhere in Gurugram have sites ever been blocked by anybody to offer namaz. He also denied any official communication from the authorities about 17 locations being discontinued as designated sites.

"These claims of 17 sites being cancelled are false. As far as the Muslim community is concerned, there are still 37 sites," Ahmad said.

"There was no namaz performed at only three sites today, Sector 12, Sector 17 and Sector 18 — all these sites had Govardhan puja today," he added.

"Namaz happened peacefully at the rest of the sites, although there was a lot of fear and caution exercised by the Muslims to not have any sort of confrontation with the vigilante groups," Ahmad said, adding that they "voluntarily stepped back as the same was advised by police forces on ground".

Speaking to The Quint, Shehzad Khan of the Muslim Ekta Manch also refuted the claims of any roads being blocked. "How much of the road was blocked for the event today? You tell me one place where roads were blocked for any namaz and we will stop offering namaz at those places," he said.

Khan, however, differed on Ahmad's claims of no communication of 20 sites being active.

"In the previous meeting held with the authorities, including the District Collector and the DCP, we had agreed upon keeping 20 locations to offer namaz in order to maintain brotherhood," he said.

The conversations with Ahmad and Khan indicated a rift within the community over representation in the matter.

"This whole issue is about offering namaz at open spaces. I have received 1,000 signatures from imams who conduct namaz at such spaces and they have chosen me as the representative," Khan claimed.

"There are some members of the community who are here only to instigate people. We have vowed to not let our brotherhood get affected with the Hindus. We are even ready to let more such sites shut down if it comes to it," he said.

Khan said that all the concerned imams were present in the meeting with the authorities and have agreed to the arrangement. He also said that the authorities have been requested to open all the mosques and Idgahs that have been shut so that people can offer namaz there rather than praying at open spaces.

Several members of the Muslim community met on Thursday, 4 November, at the Rajiv Chowk Masjid (Eidgah) to choose representatives to engage with the administration in the future.

So far, there has been no official confirmation from the authorities after Tuesday about the closure of 17 sites, ever since the Gurugram police issued an official statement of closing eight of the 37 designated sites.

DC Yash Garg remained unavailable on phone to corroborate the claims made by any of the stakeholders at the time of filing this report.

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Topics:  Gurgaon   Kapil Mishra   Gurugram 

Edited By :Tania Thomas
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