Kunwar Danish Ali, Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) member of the Lok Sabha, said: “India’s foreign policy has always been in favour of the Palestinians and our country has always stood for an independent Palestinian state. The police have to follow and act accordingly.”
NEW DELHI – The Delhi Police directive to imams not to pray in mosques for Palestinians has come in for sharp criticism from the India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), political leaders, journalists and social activists.
According to a Zee News report, the Delhi Police this week directed the imams against congregation prayers in favour of the Palestinians and threatened action for any failure in this regard.
Another report said the police intervened when prayers were being offered for Palestine in a mosque in Old Delhi. It said the imam was pressurised against mentioning Palestine in prayers.
The police directive comes amid continued Israeli bombardment of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, in the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip. The barbaric and cruel Israeli action has so far killed over 11,300 Palestinians, more than 40 per cent of them being children, during the offensive which has entered its seventh week now.
Journalist Shams Tabrez Qasmi posted a report on X platform (formerly Twitter) in Inquilab Urdu daily which said that the police also visited several mosques in the old city and issued similar notices.
The newspaper carried a report from Farzan Qureshi saying the police directive was primarily targeted at Friday congregational prayers.
Tabrez Qasmi wrote on X: “Delhi Police have issued a notice to imams asking them not to pray for Palestine, and have also threatened them with action if they pray for the Palestinians. What is happening in India? A ban is being imposed on just praying for an end to atrocities and atrocities and even to pray for the oppressed! The Indian government is voting against Israel in the United Nations and the police are voting against Palestine.”
Talking to Inquilab, AIMPLB spokesman Qasim Rasool Ilyas criticised the directive, claiming that it was against the ethos of a secular and democratic India. “Several pro-Palestine demonstrations are being held across the globe and prayers are being offered for the hapless people of Gaza. There are no restrictions anywhere”, he said.
The AIMPLB spokesman said the police have no right to prevent prayers, which are peaceful. He further called the Indian government’s stance on Palestine contradictory, as it voted against Israel in the United Nations but is allowing the police to suppress the solidarity of the Indian Muslims with Palestine.
Kunwar Danish Ali, Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) member of the Lok Sabha, was also critical of the police directive, the daily said. “India’s foreign policy has always been in favour of the Palestinians and our country has always stood for an independent Palestinian state. The police have to follow and act accordingly,” he said.
Noted lawyer M.R. Shamshad expressed his displeasure over the police directive and said they have no right to interfere in these matters. “To pray for the oppressed is also part of our obligations towards our Creator and Sustainer. The right to pray is also enshrined in Article 25 of our Constitution,” he said.
The newspaper quoted an imam as saying: “From the Muslim perspective, Palestine is very dear to us, and we essentially have our rights to pray peacefully for the Muslims there.”
India has long walked a tightrope between the warring sides, with historically close ties to both. While India strongly condemned the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas fighters and expressed solidarity with Israel, it urged that international humanitarian law be upheld in Gaza amid rising civilian deaths.