The Uttar Pradesh police's ban on offering 'namaz' (prayer) inside a park by Muslim employees of nearby companies in Noida triggered a controversy with the BJP and opposition parties trading charges and counter-charges.
According to sources, the in-charge of Sector 58 police out-post in Noida has written to the companies that 'namaz' cannot be offered in the park and that they should convey the same to their Muslim employees and make alternative arrangements.
"Namaz at the park in sector 58, which belonged to Noida authority, is not permitted... you (company officials) should tell this to your Muslim employees... the responsibility shall lie with you if namaz is offered there," the letter said.
Sources said that around 200 Muslims, who worked in the nearby companies, offered prayer at the park on Fridays. Last Friday, the cops did not allow them to offer prayers there.
Some people were also detained, sources claimed. The police, however, denied the claims.
The ban triggered a controversy with the BJP defending the decision while the Opposition parties and the Muslim clerics slamming the state government.
"Prayers cannot be allowed in the open... it may create problems," said a senior BJP leader here.
Muslim cleric and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member Khalid Rasheed Firangimahali slammed the ban and urged the police to reconsider their decision.
Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress leaders also criticised the ban and said that it reflected the "anti-Muslim" attitude of the BJP government.