A mosque was vandalised in Haryana’s Sohna on Tuesday, 1 August, a day after violence erupted in different parts of the state, starting from Nuh. The mosque, Shahi Jama Masjid, was attacked at around 2 pm on Tuesday, just hours after a peace march was held by the police and district authorities in the area.
The caretaker of the mosque, Shamim Ahmed, said that a mob of around 200 men, with their faces covered, barged in during the afternoon and began destroying “whatever came in their path.” “We were about 50 people—including children who study here. We were hidden in the inner rooms of the mosque. It must have appeared to them that the mosque is empty, or they wouldn’t have spared us. We would have died today,” Ahmed told The Quint.
Ahmed added that those who live in the mosque—caretakers, their families and children— had contemplated fleeing to their villages after Monday’s violence, but stayed back because of assurance from the authorities.
“There was a peace meeting in the morning. Locals too told us that we don’t need to leave now as everything is fine now. It is because of that assurance and trust that we stayed, but we regret it now,” Ahmed told The Quint, sitting at the footsteps of the vandalised mosque.
The mosque’s prayer hall was vandalised, with the windows broken and glass shards spread all over. The van of one of the mosque committee members, washroom, fans and other items too were damaged.
The Sohna city police SHO confirmed to The Quint that an FIR has been filed in the case against “unknown persons.”
How The Mob Entered
At around 12:30 pm, The Quint had spotted a cavalcade of police cars and district authorities take out a “peace march” or “peace rally” in Sohna, indicating that it is likely to be peaceful now. Moreover, Ahmed says that twenty policemen were deployed at the mosque—because it is the biggest and most prominent mosque in the area—since Monday night, to ensure no violence takes place.
“In the afternoon (on Tuesday), between 1:30 pm and 2 pm, there was some noise and hullabaloo a few meters away from the mosque, on the main road. So the police rushed there. The mob used this this distraction to barge into our mosque,” Ahmed said.
The vandalism went on for 15-20 minutes, claimed Mohammad Farman, another member of the mosque committee.
“Finally, when the police showed up and fired a few gunshots in the air, the mob ran away. We were able to come out of our rooms only then,” Farman told The Quint.
The lane adjacent to the one where the mosque has a sizeable Sikh population, and a Gurdwara too. “After the mob ran away, many members of the Sikh community showed up to help us. They arranged buses for the women and children of our families and helped them go back to their villages,” Farman added.
But the mosque members seem very shaken by the incident. “It’s impossible for me to regain any sense of hope or faith now. We witnessed death so closely today, it’s unbelievable. My family has been living in this mosque for fifty years and nothing of this sort has ever happened,” Ahmed said.
Violence had occurred on Monday in different parts of Haryana, starting from Nuh and spreading to Sohna and Gurugram. A total of five people have been reported dead in the state so far, including two police officers and two locals in Nuh and one Naib Imam in Gurugram's Sector 57. The Naib Imam in Gurugram was killed early on Tuesday morning, and the mosque was set on fire too.