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The comment, made in response to questions about recent disruptions of Friday prayers in Gurugram, came a day after right-wing outfits asked the CM and BJP to make their stand on the issue clear. Right-wing groups in the city have declared they won’t allow namaz in open spaces, saying prayers should only be offered in mosques and other designated places.
Responding to reporters’ queries, Khattar said that “incidents of namaz being offered in the open have increased”. “Namaz should be read in a masjid or an idgah, and if short of space, they (Muslims) should read it in their private spaces,” he said. “There’s no problem if there is no objection from the public, but if a group or a person objects, one has to take note. We’ll keep an eye on the issue,” he said. Asked about rising tension due to vigilantism, the CM said maintaining law and order is the government’s duty, and it will do that.
Last Friday, several groups went across the city, shouting slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Bangladeshi wapas jao’, and chased away prayer congregations in some places. They also labelled the practice of offering namaz in public spaces ‘land jihad’.
Right-wing outfits in Gurugram welcomed the CM’s comments. Rajiv Mittal, who claimed to be the national convener of Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Kranti Dal, said this was an issue that did not just concern Gurugram but the entire country.
“The whole country is looking at how the Gurugram administration reacts to it. Even in Muslim countries, offering namaz in the open is not permitted, and there is a fine for breaking the rule,” he said.
There are around 115 open spots across Gurugram district where namaz is offered. Muslim groups in the city say they have to do so because there are only a handful of mosques for a population of nearly 6 lakh Muslims.
Gurugram divisional commissioner D Suresh said the administration was in the process of identifying temporary sites where Muslims can offer their prayers. “The solution is not to stop praying, but it cannot be at places where there is insufficient space and impedes traffic. We are in touch with the community and only want spaces to be designated,” he said, adding that those who are trying to “indulge in irresponsible behaviour and trying to polarise society are being dealt with strictly”. “I have instructed officers to be strict and alert,” he said.