Why Is Nizamuddin Markaz Not Yet Opened For 'Namaz'?
Syed Ali Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, JUNE 21—While all religious places, including mosques, opened in Delhi
after ‘unlock’1.0 on June 8, the Banglewali Masjid, the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat,
The mosque was closed in last week of March after hundreds of Tablighi Jamaat members,
including some from foreign countries, were found stranded in the mosque due to sudden
lockdown on March 25 to check the spread of coronavirus disease.
A round the clock security has been deployed at the mosque which is still locked. The key of the lock is kept with the security personnel on duty there. They unlock the gate of the mosque during time of ‘namaz’ for 15-20 minutes. Only five persons are allowed for ‘namaz’, say the locals around the mosque. In all other mosques, the restrictions on the number of people have been withdrawn, al beit, social distancing norms have to be followed strictly by the mosque management and those coming for prayer.
When India Tomorrow contacted SHO of the Nizamuddin Police Station Mukesh Walia and asked him the reason for continuing the restrictions, he said, “Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), South East Delhi, is the appropriate authority to give the statement”. However, the DCP R. P. Meena, when contacted, said, “I am out of station and cannot give the reason”.
Police had registered a criminal against several persons connected with the Tablighi Jamaat headquarter, including its chief Maulana Mohammed Saad. However, Maulana Saad could not be contacted.
Advocate Fuzail Ayyubi, who is counsel of Maulana Saad, said, “Restrictions for ‘namaz’ in Banglewali Masjid are surprising. There is no issue, no legal difficulty to open the mosque. The government should take care of peoples’ sentiments”.
Talking on restriction on Jamaat activities, former Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) chairman Kamal Farooqi, said he was not aware of it.
However, senior advocate Mehmood Pracha said, “I would knock at door of the court if Markaz is not opened. Markaz is not a property of some selected people. This belongs to the community. All religious places were opened on June 8 but authorities concerned have not opened Markaz Tablighi Jamaat. Perhaps, this has been done to appease the political bosses”.
All India Muslim Majlis Mushawrat president Navaid Hamid said, “The government had targetted Muslims through Markaz Tablighi Jamaat. It was also used to communalize the COVID-19. Some of the TV channels had carried out fake news stories giving a fake message that Tablighi activists are carriers of coronavirus”.
Once the bustling market around the Tablighi Markaz, is almost dead now. There is hardly any business activity there. There are hundreds of shops near the mosque that depended on the Tablighi activists coming from all over the country as also abroad. But only a few of them are open now as there are no customers since the lockdown and closure of the mosque.
Tariq, a shopkeeper who sells skull caps, ‘tasbeeh’(rosary) and other small items said that closure of Tablighi Jamaat Markaz had crippled the trading activity in Nizamuddin. “We had hoped that trading activities would revive after all religious places open. But this has not happened here because Markaz is still closed and there is no hope when it will reopen. There may be political reasons behind the government decision to continue the restrictions on the Markaz.”
Surender, a rickshaw-puller, said that since the Markaz had been closed, he depended on the area people for financial support. “Jamaat activists and visitors coming to the Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah were my main sources of income. Now, there is no activity in the Basti Nizamuddin following lockdown and closure of Markaz and Dargah. With this, I have also lost my income. But the local people support me and that is why I am able to survive”, said Surender.
Shariq, who sells Biryani said, “Before lockdown I used to sell five kilogram of biryani in one hour. Now, I don’t sell even half of it in whole day. Even when lockdown has been withdrawn, there is no activity in Basti Nizamuddin due to restrictions on Markaz and Dargah and this has spoiled the business. If this continues, traders will be forced to change their place of work”. Another ‘dhaba’(restaurant) owner said that he used to sell about 50 kg of different items of meat everyday. But now, he is not selling even five kg.
Iqbal, a readymade garment shop owner, said, “Trading in Nizamuddin was hundred per cent affected by the restrictions on visitors’ movement in Markaz and Dargah. Only a few shopkeepers who have their residents in the Basti Nizamuddin, have opened their establishments. Outsiders are not coming”.
Rehan, who deals in perfumes, said, “I am sitting alone. There is no customer.”
Employees of JMC Publishers Private Limited dealing in religious books, said, “Our business for sale of books totally depended on visitors to the Markaz and Dargah. Now, there is no business as there are no visitors and it is difficult to say for how long it will continue.”
The Dargah or tomb of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, the sufi saint, who died in 1325, is a little distance away from the Markaz, is also closed due to lockdown. It is likely to open on June 30, according to its chief custodian, Wajahat Nizami. However, Nizami said there was no pressure from the government. “Taking precaution, we have closed the Dargah because it is difficult to control the kind of visitors we receive here and we also don’t know who is infected and who is not. We are taking care of cleanliness inside Dargah as also the entire campus. As far as business is concerned, it is all temporary. In Sha Allah (God Willing), it will be revived with the passage of time”, he said.