Protesters pelt stones at police outside Ghaziabad Haj House
The protesters, led by members of the district Congress committee, on Monday gathered outside the Ala Hazrat Haj House in the city and demanded opening it for Haj pilgrims immediately. It was inaugurated by former CM Akhilesh Yadav last September but has remained locked ever since.delhi Updated: Jul 31, 2017 23:37 IST
Police resorted to lathicharge as nearly 500 protesters, gathered at the newly constructed Haj House in Ghaziabad, turned violent and pelted stones at the cops.
The protesters, led by members of the district Congress committee, on Monday gathered outside the Ala Hazrat Haj House in the city and demanded opening it for Haj pilgrims immediately. The facility was inaugurated by former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav last September but has remained locked ever since.
Members of the Muslim community also offered namaz outside the locked facility and demanded its proper utilisation as the annual Haj pilgrimage nears.
Police said there were around 400 to 500 protestors at the gate who, around 9:30pm, started pelting stones at police personnel deployed in view of the agitation.
The protesters also blocked traffic on GT Road, resulting in heavy snarls from Mohan Nagar to Ghaziabad city. Police have picked up “four to five persons who were the brain behind the entire protest”. Heavy contingent of police and PCR vans were deployed at the site and also in the sensitive areas of Ghaziabad city.
“We demand that the Haj House be opened immediately as it has been locked by the district administration. The Haj House was developed to facilitate the pilgrims. The facility is fully developed, but no one can use it and the pilgrims have to go to Delhi to move ahead for their pilgrimage,” said Naseem Khan, district president of minority cell, Ghaziabad.
“It is sheer negligence that Haj pilgrims cannot use a facility developed for their use. We feel that the present government is biased and is acting against the sentiments of the community. We will stay here till the Haj House is opened for the pilgrims,” said Puja Chadda, a local Congress member.
Following the demonstration, the city police posted a contingent at the site.
“Our personnel are posted at the spot, keeping a close watch over the developments. We told the protesters that the facility has not been locked by the district administration and they have no role in opening or closing it,” said Akash Tomar, superintendent of police (city).
An appeal against the 4.3-acre complex, built along the river Hindon, is pending with the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The petitioners, all Ghaziabad residents, had contended that the Haj House had come up on river land and should be demolished.
The tribunal had on September 2, 2016 said in its order, “We make it clear that any steps or construction taken in the meanwhile shall be subject to the orders of the Tribunal passed in this Application (sic).”
Earlier, on July 27, HT had published a report on the facility lying non-functional. In the report, UP minister of state for Waqf, Mohsin Raza, had said that the decision was taken by the previous state government and the present government has maintained the status quo.
“The decision was already made by the previous government as the matter was with the NGT even before the present government assumed office. The decision was taken to protect the environment and the river’s ecology. If thousands of pilgrims arrive here it is bound to create garbage issues for the river zone. So, the closure was an earlier decision taken up to avoid contempt of court,” Raza had said.