Two people were arrested after a Muslim cleric was allegedly threatened and forced to chant 'Jai Shri Ram' in Gurugram on 22 October over conducting Friday namaz at a nearby locality every week.
The attack comes while Friday prayers by Muslims have been facing disruptions and interruptions at several location in Gurugram for the past few weeks by locals and right-wing groups.
The alleged attack on the 40-year-old Imam Abdul Hasib Misbah took place around 11 pm in Sector 39 of Gurugram, the same day as Friday prayers were disrupted by protesters in the Sector 12 area against namaz being offered at an open space.
"I was returning home after some personal work. A few men followed me and threatened me with my life if namaz was held in Sector 40. I started walking away but one of them held my hand and asked me to chant 'Jai Shri Ram.' I didn't want any trouble and gauging the situation, I chanted twice," Misbah told The Quint.
'If Anything Untoward Happens to Me or My Family...': What the FIR Says
According to the FIR filed, which was accessed by The Quint, Misbah was threatened by one Deepak Saini and Akash against conducting Friday prayers in Sector 40.
Misbah, in the FIR, also stated that he fears for his family and that the accused followed him to his house even after they let him go.
Misbah stated that "in case anything untoward happens, the people responsible for the act will be Deepak Saini and his associates."
Saini, along with one more person, were arrested by the police on Sunday.
'Ready to Forgive Them If they Apologise in Writing'
Misbah said that the area has several Muslims from the working class who cannot afford to go to distant locations to offer namaz and that the Friday prayers have been taking place there for almost a decade.
"We have been offering namaz at this place for almost 10 years. The location was decided after consultations with the then District Collector in 2012 and stakeholders of all communities. Now we are suddenly being told that this site is not one of the designated sites," Misbah said.
The Haryana government in 2018 had designated 37 locations across Gurugram for Muslims to offer Friday prayers, after protests in several areas.
Misbah demanded that they must be given an alternate location by the authorities within 500 meters of the current location.
He further said that while he fears for his family, he wants to give a message of religious unity by forgiving the accused.
"They have offered to apologise in order to not let the matter escalate. But I want an apology in writing. Islam teaches us to forgive the ones who realise their mistake. I want to uphold those values and forgive them, but they must do so in writing," he said.
The accused have been booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint ), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), and 34 (furtherance of common intention).
Protests Against Namaz in Open Spaces
The attack comes even as Friday prayers have been facing disruptions and interruptions at several location in Gurugram for the past few weeks.
Locals have been protesting against prayers being held in Sector 47, alleging safety concerns and several offering prayers being 'outsiders.' On 15 October, the locals also sang bhajans to disrupt the prayers in the area.
On 22 October, several protesters, allegedly including members of the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Durga Vahini interrupted prayers in Sector 12 of Gurugram and also chanted 'Jai Shri Ram' slogans. The protesters claimed that the prayers were being offered on a private land.
While the administration has deferred protests in Sector 47 till Diwali after assuring locals of a 'solution', the police said that it will try to resolve the matter of Sector 12 by this week.
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