On Friday, November 5, a gathering of right-wing Hindu groups barred entry to a public ground in the Sector 12 area of Gurugram, a place frequented by Muslims for prayers. Guragram, still popularly referred to as Gurgaon by locals, is a satellite city outside New Delhi, India.
The Hindu groups set up large tents to perform a religious function. Kapil Mishra, a Hindu priest and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing party. Mishra is notorious for inciting violence in New Delhi in 2020, leaving 53 people dead, mostly Muslims.
Mishra and the BJP leadership in New Delhi stoke protesters against a peaceful protest that opposes a citizenship law that excluded Muslim refugees in 2019.
Speaking to Aljazeera, Najis Mohammad, a local barber in Gurugram, said he would offer prayers every afternoon in the area close to his shop. “Today, I am not sure if I can offer namaz anywhere,” he added.
The event held by the right-wing Hindu group came days after the state of Haryana in India reversed the permission for Friday congregational prayers across 37 public grounds. These public grounds are the site where most Muslims offer prayers every Friday.
Gurugram police initially canceled the permit for prayers in eight different sites. However, if residents from other areas send a complaint or show objection, the permit to hold prayer congregations in their place will be canceled as well. The condition resulted in a total of 37 public grounds being withdrawn.
The cancellation of permits for prayer congregations results from Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti’s (Joint Hindu Struggle Committee) campaign to get rid of Muslim prayer areas. The group even issued an ultimatum to the government, saying they would take action if Muslim prayers were not stopped.
Mahavir Bhardwaj, state president of Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti in Haryana state, said his group wouldn’t issue another warning. He said, “it will then be the responsibility of the administration to maintain peace, not ours.” He explained that prayer congregations “create nuisance on roads and obstruct movement, and peace is disturbed.” “Prayers can be offered in mosques, Waqf board land, or in homes,” he added.
Bhardwaj also threatened violence from his group, saying, “we are ready for lathis, we are ready to go to jail… we won’t run if we are shot at, but this will not be tolerated.”
The Muslim community in Gurugram accused the government of giving in to the pressure from the right-wing Hindu groups. Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch, a representative of the Muslim community, accused the Hindu groups of suppressing Muslims in Gurugram.