Feel we are being watched 24×7, say locals at Jahangirpuri’s Jama Masjid


Friday prayers were offered at the local mosque for the first time since clashes broke out here

Friday prayers were offered at the local mosque for the first time since clashes broke out here

Friday prayers were held at Jahangirpuri’s Jama Masjid amid heavy police presence, with several policemen deployed in the bylanes leading up to the mosque. 

The mosque was at the centre of a controversy after its gates and boundary walls were bulldozed on Wednesday, four days after communal clashes broke out here, by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation as part of its anti-encroachment drive. 

Speaking to The Hindu, most of the people who attended the Friday prayers said the “police surveillance” in the area was taking a mental toll on them. Some said they had become paranoid over being watched 24×7 over the past almost one week. 

“This is nothing short of a crackdown on our movement. They [police] might say that the heavy deployment is for our protection. But we feel suffocated when we see policemen in every nook and cranny of our neighbourhood,” said Shahid* (name changed). 

He added that some policemen and CRPF personnel had also offered the Friday prayers at the mosque on Friday. But the presence of the security force personnel made the locals feel they were “being watched”. 

“Some also broke their fasts in the mosque. We do not question their intent. But so much has happened within the last one week, that one can’t help but feel that the security force personnel were sent inside to keep an eye on us,” Mr. Shahid added. 

However, some locals, who wanted calm to be restored in the area at the earliest, said they were not bothered by the presence of policemen and CRPF personnel inside the mosque. 

“We want to move freely and pray at ease and go back to living our normal lives. We are not scared of them [police] because we have done no wrong,” said Jaseemuddin, a native of Kolkata who has been living in Jahangirpuri for more than a decade. 

After the Friday prayers, people were asked to disperse and not to not crowd in front of the mosque. “We do not want to attract any attention, and it is understandable given the tense situation in the area,” said Mr. Shahid.

However, a group of Muslim women were seen expressing their unhappiness at witnessing a small gathering of people near the area’s local cinema while shouting provocative slogans. 

“Three to four people were shouting those slogans here, knowing fully well that we will be offering Friday prayers at this time. Why are they trying to provoke and divide people from two different communities? We want to live together, in peace,” said Saira Bano, a resident of Jahangirpuri.

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