In a ground report by Swati Goel of Swarajya Mag, the journalist has elaborated on the concerns that motivated the authorities to prohibit Namaz at a park in sector 58, Noida. Unlike the narrative peddled by the mainstream media, the weekly prayers in Fridays were quite an elaborate affair.
As per the report, carpets and chairs started pouring into the park from 10 or 11 in the morning, along with water tankers. Loudspeakers were also arranged. The Namazis, who are estimated to number between 1000 and 1500, begin arriving by 1 pm. The Namaz starts at 1.30. Organized in batches, each session lasts for about 15-20 minutes. The entire affairs are completed only by 3 pm or 4 pm.
According to a security guard posted in a building right opposite to the park, a biryani seller also parks his cart there. The entire elaborate affair is repeated every Friday, without any permission from any government authority.
Station House Officer (SHO) Pankaj Rai told Swarajya that he acted after he received complaints from residents in the area and some companies. He said, “It came to our notice that what used to be a group of 15-20 people suddenly swelled to 500-600 in a matter of two weeks. It suggested that outsiders were also coming here. So we stepped in.”
The report also revealed that the complaints against the gathering were motivated by the fear that the park will soon be hijacked by Muslims. “As a child, I used to come to this park to play. But had this been allowed to go on, the park would have soon turned into a mosque complex,” Mahesh, Kumar, a resident of Bishanpura village nearby, told Swarajya. Several others also claimed that the park would be “taken over by Muslims in the name of Friday prayers”.
A Bishanpura resident, on the condition of anonymity, told Swarajya that a tomb at Sector 62 was a source of conflict between the Jaatav community and Muslims. “They [Muslims] simply hijacked the plot. In 2014, the two communities came to blows. But the then Samajwadi dispensation sided with them,” he said.
Apart from that, several other structures such as a mosque in Gejha village, under construction mosque in Chhaprauli-Mangrauli villages, an under-construction mosque in Sector 78, a Mazar [tomb] at Sector 39 Shashikant Chowk, Mazars in Sector 99 and Sector 54 Khargosh Park among others are believed to be illegal. The VHP had demanded their removal in a letter to the District Magistrate.
When inquired of these matters by Swarajya Mag, Gautam Budh Nagar’s District Magistrate BN Singh said, “I do not know. Let us not rake up more issues, please. I am not interested in those structures right now.”
The Noida police had recently issued an advisory notice to companies in sector 58, asking their administrations to dissuade their employees from visiting nearby parks for offering namaz. The police asserted that the companies must ensure that their officials use office premises or mosques for Namaz but not public places.
Illegal gatherings for Namaz has been a constant source of bother for authorities. Hindu outfits had demanded a ban on Namaz at public places in Haryana. Haryana CM Khattar had also criticized them saying that Namaz should be offered at Mosques and not on public spaces. The Madras High Court had ruled in July that public places cannot be encroached upon for the purpose of offering prayers