Muslim workers offer Friday prayers near new Noida park after namaz row
Days after police asked private companies in Noida’s Sector 58 to stop their Muslim employees from offering namaz in an adjacent park, hundreds of Muslim workers offered the Friday prayers at a saint’s tomb near Sector 54.
However, police said no permission was taken by the workers for the prayers.
More than 500-600 Muslim employees came out of their workplaces on Friday afternoon and headed towards the Forest View Park in Sector 54.
“We don’t wish to create any further controversy and that is why we had decided to offer namaz in a land which is outside the Forest View Park,” said Chaudhary Salim, the organiser of namaz.
“The mazaar has been here since the 19th century and devotees from villages such as Chaura Raghunathpur have been coming to the site. Earlier also namaz was being offered here and after the controversy, people have come here,” Salim, a factory owner in Sector 10.
“We were told yesterday that a new ground has been allotted for offering namaz and we headed towards it with our colleagues,” said Bashir Mohammad, a worker at a sewing factory.
However, station house officer of Sector 24 police station Pankaj Pant said the park and land surrounding the tomb belongs to Noida Authority and no permission was given for the Friday prayer.
“Recently, officials had demolished an illegal structure on the same land,” Pant said.
The notice by police in Sector 58 asking companies in the industrial hub to ensure their employees do not use a park for any religious activity, including offering namaz on Fridays, had surfaced on Tuesday. In the notice, police said companies in Sector 58 will be held responsible if their employees are found violating the order.
Opposition parties criticised the move of Noida Police alleging that officials were helping the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to divide people just before the Lok Sabha election next year.
Former chief minister Mayawati had said the notice was “arbitrary and highly irresponsible.”
Senior officials in Noida had defended the police notice. Gautam Budh Nagar’s district magistrate BN Singh said the officers were doing their duty and according to senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ajay Pal Sharma, the move to stop namaz in the park was not discriminatory. Noida comes under Gautam Budh Nagar.