At 12.10 AM on Tuesday morning, a mob allegedly set fire to the Anjuman Jama Masjid in Gurugram's Sector 57, killing the Naib Imam of the mosque.
The Gurugram Police said that they have identified some of the attackers and was in the process of bringing them to book.
"Today morning, at around 12:10 AM, some people attacked Anjuman Masjid, Sector 57 in Gurugram, killing one person and injuring another. They started arson, and the fire was brought under control by fire tenders [sic]," the Gurugram Police said in a statement.
The deceased person has been identified as the Naib Imam or deputy Imam of the mosque. He was a native of Bihar. Muslims who frequent the mosque said that he was in his late teens or early 20s. He was officiating as the Imam of the mosque as the main Imam had gone to his native place for Bakrid and was yet to return.
One injured person is critical and is being treated at the W Pratiksha Hospital in Gurugram.
The police identified and has been conducting raids in different parts of Gurugram to arrest the attackers. A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered in the incident, the police said.
Violence broke out in Haryana's Gurugram hours after communal clashes erupted in the neighbouring district of Nuh.
What Happened at the Mosque?
Aneesh, a regular at the mosque, had come to offer his Isha or night prayers at around 9 PM on Monday.
"There was police presence at the mosque even at that time. When I came back to offer my Fajr (morning) prayers, the violence had already happened," he said.
A resident of Tigra village, which is in the vicinity, told The Quint, "I heard gunshots at around 12.30 or 1 AM last night. I had no idea what was happening,"
"When I went for a walk in the morning, I saw heavy police presence in the area," the resident added.
As this was among the few mosques across several sectors, many Muslims in Gurugram are shocked at the attack on the mosque and the killing of the Naib Imam.
"I spoke to a police official who I personally know sometime in the evening on 31 July when violence broke out in Nuh and asked him if there was any chance that this violence will spill over to Gurugram. He assured me that the police has things under control. But we know what happened after that. They torched the mosque at night," said human rights activist & co-founder of Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch Altaf Ahmad.
"For the first time in my life, I am scared...and to think that this is happening in the city of Gurugram which is supposed to be this cosmopolitan tech hub," Ahmad told The Quint.
Backstory of the Mosque
Situated in Gurugram's Sector 57, the Anjuman Jama Masjid is a small mosque but the only one across several sectors. Muslims from several kilometers away come and pray at the Anjuman Jama Masjid, due to the shortage of mosques in Gurugram.
"There is no Muslim resident here for several kilometers. So why should there be a mosque?" Amit, who lives in the village adjacent to the mosque, told The Quint.
"They used to bring people and religious leaders from other parts to gather a crowd here to show their power," Amit alleged
The Quint found that this assertion that there are no Muslims in the area, is not true. At Tigra village itself there are several Muslim families, many of them migrant labourers who work as rickshaw-pullers, labourers or domestic help in the area.
The mosque had been under dispute since 2004, with one section of locals challenging it in court. The High Court ruled in favour of the masjid committee in 2012 but the opposing side approached the Supreme Court. But even the SC ruled in favour of the masjid committee in 2023.
During the protests by right wing groups against Namaaz in different parts of Gurugram, the Anjuman Jama Masjid was one of the few places where prayers continued without much disturbance. This was mainly because the legal status of the mosque had been settled by the high court.
However, right wing groups continued to oppose and speak against the mosque.
What Led to the Violence?
The violence in Gurugram was an offshoot of the clashes in the neighbouring district of Nuh in Haryana on the evening of Monday, 31 July, when a religious procession by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) turned deadly, claiming the lives of at least three people, including two home guards.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (Hodal) Sajjan Dalal was shot in the head while inspector Anil Kumar of Gurugram police sustained a bullet injury in his abdomen, a police official told Hindustan Times.
Overnight, the violence from Nuh spread to Gurugram as well, the Gurugram Police said.
According to the police, the attackers came to the Anjuman Jama Masjid in Sector 57 after midnight. Some of them opened fire at people in the mosque and set it on fire, as per reports.
"Security around religious places has been strengthened. Both the police and administration are holding meetings with prominent members of the community to ensure peace," the police said.
Internet services have been suspended in Sohna, Pataudi, and Manesar areas. The BJP government has ordered Section 144 of the CrPc to be imposed in Nuh district, prohibiting four or more people to gather in a specified area.