Does the RSS have permission to hold its ‘shakhas’ in parks? Do people who use public roads and parks for weddings, religious festivals do so after securing permission? Don’t Kanwarias, the Shiva Bhakts who trek on pilgrimages, cause road blocks and camp in public spaces? Questions such as these have come thick and fast following the controversial notice to companies issued by Noida police.
The notice called upon the companies to inform their Muslim employees that they should not use the park for offering their afternoon Namaz. It threatened to hold companies responsible and prosecute them if they failed to enforce the ban.
While the SSP and DM of Noida have denied the charge that the notice is discriminatory, claiming that no religious congregation was allowed in the park and not just Namaz, it has not put a lid to the controversy. Videos of a UP police officer, identified as an IG of the Meerut Range, have surfaced which shows him showering rose petals on Shiva Bhakts from a helicopter.
On Twitter Supreme Court Advocate Sanjay Hegde wondered which law allowed the RSS ‘ shakhas’ to assemble in public parks and spaces.
“Every RSS ‘shakha’ assembles in public parks and spaces. Which law allows that?” Supreme Court advocate Sanjay Hegde has a question on UP chief minister Ajay Singh Bisht’s clampdown on ‘namaz’ in parks by “corporate employees” in Noida.
Muslim employees working in BPOs and IT firms in sector 58 say that the nearest mosques take an hour to reach for a 15-minute prayer, which is why they found the park a convenient place to offer their prayers peacefully and go back to work. The congregation clears in less than an hour in the afternoon, they claimed.
On a different note the UPchief minister was asked if he could stop religious prayers in schools or remove temples from police stations? Others tweeted:
“Yes, there shouldn't be any Namaz in public parks. Why? Because religion is a personal affair,not public. Now can you stop the prarthanas in schools? Can you stop putting the gods in govt offices? Can you stop every act of worship in govt projects (ISRO)?”
While Muslim employees at Noida have stated that they would abide by the restrictions imposed, UP Police have been advised by political parties and people alike to hold dialogues first and issue notices later.