Khudai Khidmatgar convener was arrested on November 2 for offering namaz at a Mathura temple in Uttar Pradesh on October 29
NEW DELHI — A non-political group Hindu Voices for Peace has expressed its “dismay and sadness” at the arrest of peace activist Faisal Khan, and three other members of Khudai Khidmatgar, a non-violent resistance movement.
Demanding their release, the group said, “Khan has been working tirelessly over years for the cause of inter-religion peace and harmony… they humbly prayed to Sri Krishna who taught that God is the same to all beings – Srimad Bhagavadgita (9:29) “samoham sarvabhuteshu”.
Following a complaint, Khan was arrested on November 2 for offering namaz at a Mathura temple in Uttar Pradesh on October 29.
He was accused of offering prayers without taking permission but Khudai Khidmatgar said that he took permission for offering namaz in a temple compound after an inter-faith peace and solidarity pilgrimage.
Khan, convener Khudai Khidmatgar, was sent to 14-day judicial custody by a Mathura court. As he had tested positive for Covid-19, he was sent to institutional quarantine.
Khudai Khidmatgar, an NGO that works for communal amity in society, was revived by Faizal Khan to promote inter-faith dialogue.
Khan has been charged under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 295 (defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) and 505 (public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.
The FIR, which was registered on November 1 with the Barsana police station in Mathura, names Faisal Khan, Chand Mohammad, Aalok Ratan and Nilesh Gupta. His arrest came as a shock to human rights activists who raised their grave concerns over it.
The Hindu Voices for Peace, in a statement, said, “We cannot emphasise enough that Faisal Khan performed namaz in the temple only after the Nand Baba temple priest invited him to do so. We, therefore, believe that the charges of promoting enmity and defiling a place of worship against Faisal Khan are wholly misplaced.”
The group has stated that while they seek the release of Khan and his associates, they are also “earnestly requesting the government to release from custody the Hindu men who were later arrested for reciting Hindu scriptures at a mosque,” as they believe that “such an action will contribute immensely to the shared values of peace and compassion which are at the heart of all religious traditions, and thereby will promote communal harmony in the interest of our nation.”
The statement has been signed by eminent citizens, including monks such as Brahmachaari Aatmabodhanand of the Matri Sadan Ashram, Haridwar; historian J Devika; Hindus for Human Rights co-founder Deepak Gupta; Prof. Ritu Priya from the Center of Social Medicine and Community Health, JNU; Swami Sandeepanandagiri, Gita Ashram, Thiruvananthapuram; Swami Shivananda Saraswati, Founder President, Matri Sadan Ashram, Haridwar; Goswami Sushil Maharaj, National Convener of Bhartiya Sarva Dharma Sansad (Parliament of all Religion); Thakur Dwara Mandir, Noida; Mahant Yugal Kishore Shastri, Ram Janaki Temple, Ayodhya; and many others from India and abroad.