Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar clarified later on Sunday that he had not said anything regarding stopping anyone from offering namaz. In a press release, Khattar said any person facing problems over offering of prayers at public places could inform the administration. “It’s the responsibility of the administration and police to maintain law and order,” he said.
Last Friday, various 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’.
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Sunday that namaz should be read in mosques or idgahs rather than in public spaces. 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.
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.