Manohar Lal Khattar, CM of Haryana, has commented on the latest instance of Hindutva groups stalling namaaz, saying that the prayers need to be in “mosques, Idgahs, or other designated places rather than public spaces”.
It is our duty to maintain law and order. There has been an increase in offering namaaz in the open. Namaaz should be read in Mosques, Idgahs, or other designated places rather than public spaces.Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana CM, as quoted by ANI
In a ‘clarification’ to ANI about his statement, Khattar said, “I haven't spoken about stopping anyone. Maintaining law & order is the duty of police & administration.”
Khattar, who is leaving for a visit to Israel and the United Kingdom on 7 May, noted that there had been an increase in instances of namaaz being offered in public while reiterating that it was the duty of the state to maintain law and order.
He also said that namaaz needed to be offered at “appropriate places” and is not an issue to “be displayed at public places,” The Indian Express quoted the CM as saying.
However, as Khattar tried to explain his words, his health minister Anil Vij backed the Hindu groups that stopped namaaz. "Occasionally if someone needs to read the namaaz, he has the religious freedom to do so but one can't read namaaz anywhere in the open, with the intention of grabbing land. The government can't allow that," Vij told reporters on Monday.
The Haryana ministers’ comments come after the incident on Friday, 4 May, when members of the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti claimed that they prevented hundreds of Muslims in as many as 10 locations from offering namaaz in open spaces.
According to a Scroll report, the 10 locations where prayer offerings were stalled were based in and around Gurugram.
Just two weeks ago, Hindu villagers had stopped namaaz in an open space in Sector 53, Gurugram. Every Friday, around 700 Muslims gathered at this location to pray. The villagers alleged that the Friday prayers were being held to encroach on government land.
The following video is from 20 April from Gurugram, where members of a Hindutva group disrupted the Friday namaaz proceedings. Hindu residents of Wazirabad and Kanhai can be seen forcing the Muslims gathered to leave:
‘Muslims Have to Take Permission’
“Muslims have to take permission from the administration to pray in open spaces,” Rajeev Mittal, national coordinator of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Kranti Dal, told Scroll after the incident on 4 May.
Members of the samiti interfered in 10 cases where Muslims were found preparing before offering namaaz. We did not let that happen. But no law and order issues were reported. Our demand was clear — get permission from the authorities.Rajeev Mittal to Scroll
Documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy, who witnessed the incident, told Scroll:
The men tried to storm into the area where the namaaz was taking place. They were stopped by the police and finally they left. The Muslims were too terrified to resume the namaaz.Rahul Roy
Senior police officials, however, said no complaints had been received regarding namaaz disruptions.
Our duty is to maintain law and order, it is the district administration’s call on where it would allow namaaz to happen and where not.Ravinder Kumar, Spokesperson, Gurugram Police, as quoted by Scroll.in
Six people were arrested after the video showing the 20 April incident surfaced online. They were later released on bail. Several groups have called for a ban on namaaz in public spaces since then.
The Friday prayers on 27 April were performed at the location only after intense police deployment.
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