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An Eerie Calm Grips Gurgaon After Men Disrupt Friday Namaaz

Image For Representation Only. (Getty Image)

Image For Representation Only. (Getty Image)

Not a single man can be found on that plot in Wazirabad village near the high rise Ardee City, where Irshad usually offered the namaaz.

Gurgaon: Amid the usual hustle bustle of the millennium city, Irshad takes a break from his job and arrives at a nearby ground. It’s yet another Friday, but Irshad is hesitant as he spots policemen in the vicinity.

It all began on April 20 when a group of men gathered at the ground to offer Friday prayers but were disrupted by men shouting “Jai Shri Ram”, who asked the namaazis to dismiss. The video went viral and a week later, on April 26, six men were arrested for violence.

This Friday, there is an unusual calm in the area, which has given rise to Irshad’s hesitation as he prepares for juma.

Not a single man can be found on that plot in Wazirabad village near the high rise Ardee City, where Irshad usually offers namaaz.

In the wake of the April incident, policemen have been deployed in the area. This is the second time that they had to offer namaaz with nearly six police officers guarding the area. The first time they saw the police team on the ground was on April 27, a day after the arrests.

Irshad and the others, who have arrived at another nearby plot to namaaz, know that the policemen have come for protection but can’t ignore their presence.

“It’s odd. We have been peacefully offering our prayers for more than a decade now and have never had issues. Now also we have had no incidents of violence but with cops surrounding us is weird,” Irshad says.

This plot of land has close to 200 people coming in for their namaaz every Friday. Since last week, however, Irshad and the others said that the number had increased.

“We think those who offered their prayers on the other plot (where the violence took place) have moved here,” says the imam who had conducted the namaaz.

Another man says that he was asked by someone to not enter that plot. “I was merely crossing that plot to get here but someone on a bicycle told me not to go there. I don’t know who he was,” the man says.

The men assembled on this plot near sector 57 said that the villagers in the area had always helped them with water facility for their namaaz.

“The owner of this plot is also kind and has told us that we are free to conduct our prayers,” the imam adds.

There is a mosque nearby but it is always full. The mosque conducts the Friday prayer in two batches yet is always full, the imam further says, adding that hence many Muslims are forced to offer prayers outside.

As more men pour into the plot to offer their namaaz, policemen, including lady officers, start moving outside the plot of land to give the men more space on the plot. One of the top officers says that everyone in the department knew who was behind such attacks on Muslims.

“These people from right wing organizations like VHP, Bajrang Dal and RSS keep saying why Muslims are offering prayers on public land. That is their problem. Kehte hai woh apne ghar mai pooja karte hai, toh Musalmaan log kyu nahi kar sakte (they ask why Muslims can’t offer their prayers inside their houses like most Hindus do),” the official says, on condition of anonymity.

Irshad, however, has a different take on things. “Islam has survived even when it wasn’t practiced so much. People used to offer their namaaz in secrecy. It will continue,” he says. Another man joined in. “But let’s face it, even if we want to build a mosque, it’s a huge task. We can’t build a mosque just like one builds a temple,” the man says.

“If one gives trishul or a sword to a person, instead of books or a job, this (insecurity and violence) will happen. I don’t think the government wants to have employed people,” Irshad adds.

(Names of all people have been changed to protect their identity)