Concerned at the free hand to Hindutva groups to disrupt Friday prayers at public places in Gurgaon, around one dozen former civil servants have written to Haryana Chief Secretary urging him to rein in religious outfits, immediately stop vigilantism and ensure police security at the public places at the time of Friday prayers.
In their open letter to Chief Secretary of Haryana Depinder Singh Dhesi, the former civil servants warned that if not arrested immediately, “such vigilantism will seriously hurt the reputation of Gurgaon as an investment destination as well as its cosmopolitan image.” They also said that it is the responsibility of the state government and its machinery “to ensure the right of all citizens to practise their religion – a right guaranteed by the Constitution”.
The letter has been signed by eleven former IAS officers, including Sundar Burra, former secretary in Maharashtra government; Harsh Mander, former official of the Madhya Pradesh government; K Sujatha Rao, former health secretary of the government of India; and Ardhendhu Sen, former chief secretary in the West Bengal government.
In the letter, the retired civil servants have listed several recent incidents of attacks at Friday prayers in Gurgaon and said that these “attacks are coordinated, violent and clearly designed to terrorise and intimidate…”
“Over the last one month, Friday namaaz offered by the Muslim community in open spaces have been attacked and disrupted at several locations in Gurgaon district. These attacks have been organised by a dozen or so organisations (including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Kranti Dal, Gorakshak Dal, Hindu Jagaran Manch and Shiv Sena) that have come together under the umbrella of the Hindu Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti.”
“Last Friday a group of hoodlums arrived in four jeeps at a namaaz venue on MG Road and started shouting abusive and provocative slogans at the namaazis. Although a police force was present, it took no action to stop them. On the contrary, the police asked the namaazis to disperse. At a namaaz in Sector 40, the Imam who was leading the prayers was pushed to the ground. People who came for the prayers had no option but to fold up their mats and leave,” read the letter.
“Concerned at this ugly development, citizens of Gurgaon held a meeting today (7thMay). The meeting was attended by around a hundred people from several religious communities. It was decided that a delegation of senior people should meet the Deputy Commissioner to urge him to take action before the situation goes out of control. Some citizens volunteered to be physically present on Fridays at some of the namaaz venues to show solidarity with the worshippers,” the former civil servants wrote in the open letter.
The retired officers, most of them IAS and IPS officers, condemned the statement of Haryana Chief Minister Manoharlal Khattar whereby he asked Muslims to offer Namaz at home or mosques. A clarification was later issued by the CM that open prayers can go on if no one objects.