Muslim organisations have opposed the decision of the chief minister of the northern state of Haryana to not allow Muslims to offer Friday prayers in open spaces in Gurugram, adjacent to New Delhi.
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, India’s largest socio-religious Muslim organisation, said offering prayers is a fundamental right of Muslims.
“We do not offer Namaz (prayers) in the open because we like to do so. We are compelled to offer prayers in the open. It is the responsibility of the government to give us the facility to offer prayers at places which had been earmarked earlier by the administration for this purpose,” said Secretary Niaz Farooqui. “And the government is kneeling before those who want to go against the law and forcefully deprive Muslims of their basic right. The government should not bow down to such people.”
The Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) Haryana, zonal organiser Asad Ahmad said: “We are utterly dejected by Haryana CM (Chief Minister) Manohar Lal Khattar’s remarks. It’s unfortunate that the administration is caving in from the pressure by a handful of Hindutva goons who should have been put behind bars for disrupting the prayers and communalizing the society.”
“The administration is instead punishing law-abiding Muslims, who have always cooperated with the administration and their fellow residents,” Ahmad told Anadolu Agency.
“We demand that until alternate sites are allotted for prayers, the Muslims should be allowed to pray at previously designated sites. The administration should resolve disputes and remove encroachments on various Waqf lands in Gurugram so that the devotees are not forced to offer prayers in public,” he added.
Waqf Board is a statutory body established for the management of movable or immovable properties, including mosques, dedicated for religious, pious or charitable purposes as recognised by Muslim law. But in Haryana most of such properties are heavily encroached.
Khattar in a statement Friday said: “All previous sanctions given for public prayers stand nullified and the state government will now work out an amicable solution that will uphold all rights and ensure no encroachment or exploitation.”
The state is ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Khattar said prayers would not be offered in public places.
“We have no issues with anybody practicing their religion at their religious places but the use of open spaces is not acceptable,” he said. “We will help the (Haryana) Waqf Board to get their spaces free of encroachment. Till then, people should offer prayers at their legal sites, homes etc. We won’t infringe on any rights but nobody’s allowed to bully.”
Protests by right-wing Hindu groups along with residents have been going on for several weeks.
Muslims had been offering Friday prayers on government-owned land at 37 locations designated by the local administration in Gurugram.
But right-wing groups, along with residents, said Muslims should not be allowed to offer prayers on the land as they may create security problems.
Several rounds of meetings between the administration and residents failed to solve the issue.
Muslims who offer prayers in government-designated land believe only two mosques exist in the area and it is not possible for all to offer prayers in just two mosques.