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FIR against 150 in Agra for offering namaaz on road

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Devotees had permission to offer namaaz at the location. However, after Hindu organizations objected and threatened to recite the Hanuman Chalisa, the district administration withdrew permission to avoid any unexpected communal incidents.

Over 150 people have been booked in Agra for offering namaaz on the road in front of a mosque without permission from the police. This comes days after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath issued an order banning religious programmes on the road if traffic is obstructed after Hindu organizations protested against namaaz on roads. A case has been registered under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and under the Indian Penal Code for violating Section 144, the police said.

Devotees had permission to offer namaaz at the Imli Wali Masjid on Sarojini Naidu Medical College Road for five days between 9 pm and 11 pm. They had the consent of local shopkeepers and administration. However, this year, after Hindu organizations objected to the prayers on the road and threatened to recite the Hanuman Chalisa, the district administration withdrew permission to avoid any unexpected communal incident.

After the permission was retracted, it was decided with everyone’s consent that the Tarabih would be completed in three days instead of five. However, by the time the permission was withdrawn, two days of Tarabih Namaaz had been offered and one day was left according to the new agreement.

But this one day proved expensive for the devotees, with a case being registered against over 150 people.

“The Tarabih Namaz was offered on the road, disrupting traffic and causing difficulties for the locals,” a senior police officer told India Today. “The conditions of permission were violated and the permission had been retracted,” he said, adding that three named and 150 others have been made accused in this case.

In this case, sections of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act have been imposed apart from sections of the Indian Penal Code for hurting religious sentiments and violating Section 144,” the official said.

According to the FIR, Irfan Salim, a resident of Gadhaiya Hakiman, was granted permission to offer Tarabih Namaz at Imli Wali Masjid from 8 pm to 10 pm between April 2 and April 9. The permit came from the Additional District Magistrate. It is alleged that the organizers violated the instructions. The permission was revoked on April 4 but prayers were offered even after that. This promoted hatred on the basis of religion among the people.

The police said that the matter is being investigated.

The manager of the masjid, Irfan Salim, and his supporters said that the Tarabih Namaz is being offered during Ramadan for almost 40 years now at this masjid with the cooperation and support of local shopkeepers. “But this time, under the leadership of Sanjay Jat, members of the Hindu Mahasabha, reached the place of prayer and threatened to recite Hanuman Chalisa, despite the fact that no local resident accompanied Sanjay Jat. It appears that the district administration has taken this step under pressure from the Hindutva organizations,” he said.

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