NOIDA: The Imam who has been leading the Friday congregation prayer for the last five years in the Noida community park was among two people detained by the police on December 18.
Imam Sahab Maulana Noman Akhtar and Adil Rashid, who belongs to the Mohammadiya Trust, were detained under Section 151 of IPC. They were granted bail on 22 December.
Maulana Akhter told The Indian Express that on Dec 14, police asked him to announce that there would be no prayers henceforth. “On that day, almost 2,000 people were there. Police cited lack of permission from Noida authorities, when in fact we had written to them earlier. So I told people no one is allowed to offer namaz till permission is obtained,” he said.
Akhtar said the only reason police sent out the notice to companies in the industrial hub was the number of people that increased over the years because of which the people in the neighbourhood start objecting.
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“I have been leading the prayers since 2013. Initially, 100-200 would come. But the numbers rose due to word of mouth. There came a time when almost 1,000 people would come, but it was done in a peaceful manner,” Maulana Akhtar told IE.
Meanwhile, a much-criticised diktat came after a video emerged showing fringe activists trying to disrupt their prayer and bullying and threatening Maulana and Rashid.
“A few days before December 14, a man came to us with a mobile phone and started recording us while we were sitting in the park after namaz. There were only three-four of us. The way he was asking us questions, we were apprehensive of him creating trouble,” Rashid was quoted IE as saying.
However, the SHO Pankaj Raj, Sector 58 denied links. “We have not received any information about the video. The action was taken on the basis of the complaint by the people in the neighbourhood.
Last week, the station house officer (SHO) sent a notice asking the offices and establishments in Noida’s Sector 58 to direct their Muslim employees to stop offering Friday prayers in open areas such as parks.
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