Video editor: Mohd. Irshad Alam
"Na mullon ka na qazi ka, yeh desh hai veer Shivaji ka!"
That was the slogan being chanted by Hindutva groups at Sector 37 in Gurugram, at a site where Muslims would usually read namaz on Friday.
As Gurugram's namaz dispute took another ugly, communal turn this week, The Quint documented all that went down at one of the worst-affected sites of contention in the city.
From anti-Muslim slogans being shouted, to a Muslim man saying he was thrashed by a Hindutva mob pressuring him to chant 'Jai Shri Ram', here is the story of a Friday gone wrong.
Or rather, yet another Friday gone wrong in Gurugram.
'This is Our Birthplace, Not Yours'
"We had come here peacefully, to offer namaz. They (Hindutva protesters) didn’t let us offer namaz, and on top of that, got physical with us. I was just standing there quietly when they came and slapped me from the back."Najim Ali
Najim Ali is a 28-year-old migrant worker from Moradabad who earns his daily bread in Gurugram. He was recounting to us how he and other Muslims were prevented from offering namaz at their usual open site in Sector 37 because hundreds of Hindutva protesters had occupied the entire place, determined to not allow any Muslims to read their namaz at that site.
A frustrated Najim added, "Is there any religion which stops people from doing puja or reading namaz? Does Ram ask us to not read namaz, or does Allah ask one to not go to a temple? We come here to offer namaz just on Friday, not even daily."
It was at this point in the interview that Hindutva protesters disrupted our conversation and began shouting at Najim.
The situation escalated quickly. Antarpal, a Hindutva protester screamed at Najim, "This is our birthplace, we will stay here."
Najim: This is our birthplace too!
Antarpal: How is this your birthplace?
Najim: Our ancestors have died here.
Antarpal: What ancestors? Which Mohammad Ghori has died here?
Najim countered, "So what do you mean - I’m a foreigner?" and Antarpal shouted back, "Yes, you are a foreigner. What you are doing (namaz) shows you are a foreigner."
Worried about a further escalation, Najim and his friends decide to walk away. "Let's go, let's leave from here," they can be heard saying.
But even as the Muslims left the area, the Hindutva protesters followed them.
'They Asked Me to Chant 'Jai Shri Ram' And Beat Me Up'
Minutes later, we spotted Antarpal and several of his fellow Hindutva protesters on their bikes, speeding away in the opposite direction.
While doing so, Antarpal shouted, "Mohammad Ghori has got his medicine, let’s go!"
Right from the spot around which the bikes had just left, there was a jacket lying in the middle of the road. That jacket was Najim Ali's.
Najim recounts, "We were walking away, when these people started coming after us and chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Then, they came and stopped their bikes in front of me and kept asking me to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. I told them I will not say it on their demands. I say ‘Jai Shri Ram’ of my own will when I have to, and participate in puja too. But I will not say it because they are forcing me to."
He says that the Hindutva protesters then proceeded to beat him up. "They kept punching me."
Another local corroborated Najim's account, "I was there when this happened. They came on bikes, and started beating him after getting off their bikes. They kicked and punched, and beat him in a way people wouldn’t even beat their enemies."
Watch our full video to find out if Najim intends to complain to the police about this matter and whether he still wishes to go to offer namaz on the following Friday at the same open site in Sector 37.
How does he respond to Hindutva protesters like Antarpal who call him a foreigner based on his faith? And why does he have pictures of Hindu deities plastered on the door of his room?
Also, what will the cops do about the anti-Muslim slogans raised at the Hindutva protest on 10 December, which took place right in front of the police station and with dozens of police officials around? And how did senior police officials respond when asked if action would be taken?
Catch all that, and much more, in our full video ground report.