A group of Muslims visited the Sadar Gurdwara on Friday, and offered their greetings to the Sikhs who were celebrating Gurupurab even as no prayers were offered at any of the five gurdwaras offered to them by the Sikh community in view of the repeated disruptions by the Hindu right-wing groups.
However, members of the Gurdwara Guru Singh Sabha — which manages five gurdwaras in the city — on Friday said that their offer was only in “case of an emergency”. The development came after several Sikhs said that they will protest if the committee members allow Muslims to offer namaz on the premises of a gurdwara in the city.
Members of the Muslim community said they had a plan to offer namaz at 1pm at the gurudwara, but members of some right-wing groups reached there to disrupt the Friday prayers.
“Hence, we made a collective decision to not offer namaz at the gurdwara,” said Altaf Ahmad, a member of Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch, a citizens’ platform, and spokesperson for the Gurgaon Muslim Council.
Sherdil Singh Sandhu, president, Gurdwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, on Wednesday offered the gurdwara premises for namaz, but on Friday said that it was only in case of an emergency.
Sandhu said his intention was not to offer space of a gurdwara to the Muslim community. “This is not possible in any way. How can we let our religious place get into any kind of controversy. Anyone can use ‘guru ka darbar’ in case of an emergency,” he said.
Sandhu further said that even the Muslims will not like to use the premises for offering Friday prayers. “We will not take a decision that can land us in any controversy. I urge people to not believe any rumour that we have offered our space to the Muslim community. We will not let this happen anytime in future,” he said.
Meanwhile, members of some right-wing groups on Friday reached the Gurdwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha at Kamla Nehru Park in the Sadar area around 12pm, and met the gurdwara committee members and spent nearly two hours inside the premises.
Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, the legal advisor for Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, a right-wing outfit which has been protesting against offering of namaz in the open, said that they will not let the Muslims use their space for offering namaz.
“We distributed 2,500 copies of a book titled ‘Guru Tegh Bahadur-Hind ki Chadar’ and paid tributes to Gur Nanak Dev. We asked the gurdwara committee members to not allow the Muslim community to use gurdwaras for Friday prayers. If the Muslims offer prayers in their houses or mosques, we have no objection,” he said.
“After a discussion, the gurdwara sabha members have retracted their statement,” he said.
Several police teams were also deployed at the Sadar gurdwara. A senior police official, seeking anonymity, said that the situation was under control at the gurdwara.
Sardar Ravi Ranjan Singh, chairman of Jatka Committee, who released a video on Thursday night to criticise the decision of Sandhu, said that the gurdwara is only for Gurbani. “We held a meeting on Friday and criticised the decision taken without discussing it with other members. Gurdwaras are only for ‘Gurbani’. The president has assured us to reconsider his decision. No individual can take any decision without taking consent from others,” he said.
Singh said there are many ways to promote peace and harmony, but ‘jagrarta’ in a mosque and namaz in a gurdwara is not logical. “We will discuss the issue with Sikh Sangat of Amritsar and Delhi and request for issuance of necessary direction,” he said.
Daya Singh, president of All India Peace Mission and member of the Gurdwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, said, “We had offered adjacent school space to the Muslims but they refused to offer namaz there. We did not want any issue on the occasion of Gurupurab,” he said.
Raman Malik, spokesperson of Haryana unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said, “Those who are opening doors of gurdwaras for namaz are making a political statement, but those who responsible for maintenance of gurdrawa should remember that Sikh panth was started for protection of Sanatana Dharma from atrocities of Muslims,” he said.
Representatives of the Muslim community said that they decided not to offer namaz at the gurdwara to “avoid anything untoward on the occasion of the birthday of Guru Nanak”.
A delegation of Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch met gurdwara committee members and handed over a letter to them, thanking them for their generous gesture of offering space to Muslims for namaz.
“The manch salutes Sherdil Singh Sandhu for becoming the torchbearer of a movement that will inspire many people in Gurgaon to follow in his footsteps,” stated the letter.
Henna Ahmad, who was part of the delegation, said that Muslims may not have offer namaz at a physical space of gurdwara, however, crores of Muslims in India have read namaz sitting in the hearts of the Sikh community. “Since Thursday, members of right-wing groups were using condemnable tactics to mount pressure on the gurdwara committee to stop Muslims from offering Friday namaz. Since today was a big festival of Sikh community — Gurpurab, a huge rush of Sikh devotees was being expected and we did not want to jeopardize the security of anyone,” he said.