A group of residents and members of a Hindu outfit on Friday again disrupted namaz at two sites, designated by the city administration for Muslims to offer Friday prayers, despite assurances from the police that they will not allow disruptions.
One of the sites where the prayers were disrupted was Sirhaul Village park, where prayers were disturbed last Friday as well. Protesters from the Hindu community raised religious slogans, following which Muslims shifted to another location. Namaz was also disturbed at the ground in Sector 37, where locals started playing cricket. Muslims offered namaz at the ground itself, but only after the police cleared the space.
In Sirhaul, more than 40 members of Manavta Sanghatan, a Hindu group engaged in “social service”, and residents congregated at the park designated for namaz and started chanting religious slogans.
“Last week, we informed everyone that we would not let anyone pray in the open. But Muslims again came to the park on Friday. We are adamant about not letting our parks be used for prayers. We will close the gates of the park next Friday and things may get ugly,” said Praveen Yadav (33), a resident.
Haji Shehzad Khan, chairman of Muslim Ekta Manch, said when members of the Muslim community reached Sirhaul park, they were not allowed to offer prayers. “We are not troubling anyone, still people are not supporting us in many areas. Such incidents create differences between communities and we should try to spread love and peace instead of hatred,” he said.
At Sector 37, around 15 men started playing cricket before Muslims reached the spot to offer namaz. The ground is opposite to the police station and Muslims had to seek the help of the police, who took almost an hour and a half to clear the ground.
Sunder Chauhan of Khandsa village, who protested against namaz in the open, said they play cricket on the ground on their days off and the ground was not for any religious activity. “The cricket match was planned in September; and we will not allow Muslims to offer prayers in our area,” he said.
Sachin Yadav, another resident who was playing cricket, said police asked them to allow the Muslims to offer namaz. “There is no ground in the village; this is the only space where children can play. Due to the namaz, our match was disrupted and we had to postpone it to Sunday,” he said.
Police said Muslims who came to the spot for prayers did not have any permission document. Police have asked them to get a copy of the permission document next week, else they will not be allowed to offer namaz there.
“We stopped the cricket match and got the ground vacated for Muslims to offer prayers. Both the groups had started arguing but we reached the spot and controlled the situation ,” said Sanjay Singh, station house officer of Sector 37 police station.
On Friday, most Muslims chose to offer prayers at Sector 57 mosque, after the number of public sites for namaz was reduced from 37 to 20 two week ago. Namaz was not offered at any of the sites where objections were raised earlier, said officials of the district administration on Friday.