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Adityanath flags fresh controversy with ‘Janmashtami and namaz’ remark

“Agar mai sadak par eid ke din namaz padhne par rok nahi laga sakta toh phir mujhe thano mein janmashtami ke parv ko rokne ka bhi koi adhikar nahi (If I can’t stop Eid namaz being offered on the streets then I have no right to stop Janmashtami celebrations at police stations either),” Adityanath had said at a function in Lucknow.

lucknow Updated: Aug 18, 2017 15:14 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Yogi Adityanath,Chief minister UP,Uttar Pradesh
The UP government had issued an order asking the police to celebrate Janmashtami in a ‘grand but dignified’ manner.(HT Photo)

Eyebrows are being raised over chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s Wednesday statement that the government had no business to stop Janmashtami celebrations in police stations if it could not stop people from offering ‘namaz’ on streets.

“Agar mai sadak par eid ke din namaz padhne par rok nahi laga sakta toh phir mujhe thano mein janmashtami ke parv ko rokne ka bhi koi adhikar nahi (If I can’t stop Eid namaz being offered on the streets then I have no right to stop Janmashtami celebrations at police stations either),” Adityanath had said at a function in Lucknow.

This was no off the cuff remark as ahead of the festival, the UP government had issued an order asking the police to celebrate Janmashtami in a ‘grand but dignified’ manner.

While the order also claimed Janmashtami celebrations were disrupted in the past, there was little to support the CM’s contention.

Senior police officers whom HT contacted too weren’t able to confirm if the celebrations were disrupted in the past.

UP has around 1500 (including those of the GRP) police stations where celebrations are held as per the space.

“Every year the DGP has been issuing similar order about celebrating the festival in a dignified manner. Vulgar dances and women dancers have been banned but not the celebrations,” a senior IPS officer said on conditions of anonymity.

According to mythology, Krishna was born in a prison in Mathura.

That is why special celebrations are held in police lines and prisons on the occasion. “I have seen Janmashtami celebrations in police lines for decades now,” said former DGP Prakash Singh, who wasn’t so sure about celebrations in police stations though.

“Yogiji must realise that he is now the chief minister and stop engaging in communal politics,” AIMIM state president Shaukat Ali said.

Yogi’s comment provided the opposition parties a chance to accuse the chief minister of playing vote bank politics.

“Why is he flagging a non-issue? As CM he must speak responsibly. There is nothing to support his view on Janmashtami celebrations being disrupted,” former UP minister Rajendra Chowdhary said.

“Yadi hum keh dein ki garv se kaho hum Hindu hain toh log kahenge sampradayik hai ... Aap aaraam se Christmas manaiye, namaaz padhiye .. koi nahi rok raha hai ... lekin kanoon ke daayre main reh kar ... (If we say be proud to be a Hindu, then we would be dubbed communal ... you celebrate Christmas, offer namaz ... none would stop you if it’s within the law),” the CM had said.

Adityanath had also justified his government’s decision to lift ban on DJ and music systems to be played during the yatra. “Maine poocha yeh kanwar yatra hai ya Shav yatra ...(I asked the officials whether it’s a kanwar yatra or funeral procession),” he said saying the yatra is a celebration.

“There has never been any demand from Muslims to stop Janmashtami celebrations in prisons. So the comparison was uncalled for. As CM, Yogiji should build bridges between communities, not destroy them. His responsibility is much bigger given the impressive mandate his party has got,” said Athar Siddiqui from the Centre of Objective Research and Development (CORD).

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 15:14 IST