A Weekly Affair: How Friday Namaz Became Right Wing's Target in Gurugram

The Quint traces the beginnings of small-scale disruptions in 2018 that turned into front page headlines in 2021.

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“Gurugram does not have enough mosques for its Muslim population. Any attempts to build mosques have been blocked by the courts or the right-wing groups,” Sumeir, a resident of Gurugram who was protesting the disruptions of namaz by the right-wing groups in Haryana’s Gurugram, told The Quint.

“There is no issue, apart from the issue that's being created by the right-wing groups, which is the fact that they don't like to see Muslims in public spaces,” he added.


Gurugram has been a hotbed for weekly confrontations between the people of two communities for past several months now. The right-wing groups have been disrupting the namaz offered in open spaces in the city week in, week out.

So much so that a day after Diwali, a Govardhan puja was conducted in the open space where Muslims used to offer namaz every week. The right-wingers have been protesting against Muslims offering Friday prayers in open spaces claiming that this leads to traffic and even “harassment” of their women.


How Friday Prayers Became a Target

On 19 March 2018, right-wing group Bharat Mata Vahini (BMV) attempted to disrupt the Friday prayers in a park in Gurugram’s Sector 40. BMV chief Dinesh Bharati was among the many disrupters who tried to confront the Muslims offering namaz. But that day he was escorted out from the site while he was protesting.

"We did not form the government so that Gurugram, the land of Guru Drona, be made a land for Muslims. We protest the attempts to turn the city into an Islamic place."
Dinesh Bharat, Bharat Mata Vahini chief

The next week, the Hindu groups again targeted the Muslims who were offering Friday prayers in Sector 40 park. But those attempts were again thwarted by the police.


Not even a month later, on 26 April 2018, local Hindu residents from Wazirabad and Kanhai disrupted Friday prayers in Sector 53 and shouted the slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’. The police had arrested six people that day for hurting religious sentiments.

The next week, on 23 April 2018, Sanyukta Hindu Sangharsh Samiti protested outside the district collector’s office and demanded to put a stop to namaz in Hindu-dominated neighbourhoods.


In May 2018, the right-wing group had tried to stop or disrupt the Friday prayers in at least 10 locations in Gurugram. After weeks of disruptions, the Gurugram administration granted permission to Muslim community for outdoor prayers in 37 places.

On 24 September, BMV’s Dinesh Bharati and others from the group protested against Friday prayers in open spaces and accused the police of sheltering Muslims while they offered namaz on government property.

A week later, the Friday prayers were again disrupted in Sector 37 and the Muslim men offering namaz were accused of “harassing” women in a viral video.


Small Disruptions Turned Into Full-Scale Protests 

On 8 October, the disruptions turned to full-scale protests in Sector 47 when Muslims offered Friday prayers amid the chants of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. The next week, residents of Sector 47 came in singing bhajan on a mic to protest and disrupt the Friday prayers.

Week after week, the right-wing groups disrupted Friday prayers in various locations in Gurugram. On 28 October, at least 50 people were detained after they raised slogans against namaz in Sector 12A area.

On 2 November, Gurugram administration withdrew permission to offer namaz at eight out of 37 designated sites. A committee was formed to identify locations for offering namaz with locals’ consent.


An Agreement

On 6 December, both Hindu and Muslim groups agreed on 18 places in Gurugram for Friday namaz. These 18 places include 12 mosques and six public spaces.

Several Hindutva groups raised anti-Muslim slogans at the namaz site in Sector 37.

Meanwhile, namaz was offered in Sector 29 which is among the 18 agreed upon new open sites.

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Topics:  Hindu   Gurugram   Right-Wing 

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