Muslims Seek to Offer Prayers Peacefully as Bajrang Dal Disrupts Taraweeh in Moradabad

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Oddly, the owner of the warehouse Zakir Hussain and nine of his family members have been served a notice by an additional city magistrate alleging that their offering of prayers could “disrupt peace” in the area

Ghazala Ahmad | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — In yet another instance of religious intolerance, Rashtriya Bajrang Dal members created a ruckus and disrupted congregational Taraweeh prayers in Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh.

Taraweeh is the voluntary congregational prayer offered by Muslims every night during the holy month of Ramadan.

A group of Rashtriya Bajrang Dal, headed by its state president Rohan Saxena, barged into the godown of a Muslim businessman, Zakir Hussain, in Lajpat Nagar in Katghar Police Station area on Saturday night.

Zakir Hussain, who owns an iron factory in the area, and over a dozen male members of his extended family were offering Taraweeh prayers in his godown.

“While we were praying inside, a group of people from Bajrang Dal came and tried to stop our prayers”, Zakir Hussain told Clarion India over the phone.

“They (the Bajrang Dal men) created so much ruckus that a posse of policemen arrived and we were, somehow, managed to complete our  Taraweeh.”

Hussain said police provided protection to those offering prayers and took steps to avoid any untoward situation. But after the prayers were over, the police asked us to discontinue prayers there.

“We were asked to stop praying until they could resolve the issue after talking to the objecting Bajrang Dal members”, he added.

Hussain said Muslims haven’t filed any complaints. “We don’t want to involve ourselves in legal issues”, he said.

“Let us pray, we want to pray in peace”, he said.

Since Saturday night’s incident, Hussain’s family members are offering Taraweeh in a mosque which is far away from their place of residence.

“It was our personal arrangement to pray together with my family members and we were offering it within the confines of our own property. This should not be an issue for anyone”, Hussain said.

A resident of Katghar said: “We got to know of the incident while returning from a mosque. A large contingent of police was present in the godown surroundings.”

The matter, he said, is settled now, I guess. “But they are not praying Taraweeh in the godown anymore”.

However, this was not the first time that people were offering Taraweeh here. “Even we used to pray there during the peak of Covid pandemic. It’s normal”, he said.

Oddly, Hussain and nine of his family members were served a notice on Sunday (26 March) by an additional city magistrate alleging that their offering of prayers could “disrupt peace” in the area.

The notice, issued under Section 111 of the Criminal Procedure Code, also mentioned that “offering Taraweeh in a group is enough evidence to take any action.”

Besides Hussain, those who received the notice were Jameel Ahmad, Abrar Ahmad, Mohd. Mubeen, Rais Ahmad, Mohd. Anwar, Azam, Taskeer, Uvaid and Anees.

All of them have been directed to maintain peace in the area for the next six months and to sign a muchalka (an obligation or bond) of 5 lakh rupees each stating that they will be held responsible if any untoward incident happens in the area in the future.

Clarion India‘s repeated calls to the Station House Officer of Katghar Police Station went unanswered. Strangely, his phone set was found to be switched off after some time.

Several people seemed baffled at the police action and are questioning the legality of the notice issued by the additional city magistrate.

Speaking to Clarion India, Syed Masood Ul Hasan, former state president of the Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha, a youth wing of Samjwadi Party, said: “Nowhere in the world people would be apprehended for merely performing their religious obligation within the walls of their own property.”

He said the authorities owe an explanation for their failure to take just and fair action. They stopped people from offering prayers only because some “chhut-bhaiyya (menial) members” of some Rashtriya Bajrang Dal had an objection. This is outrageous”, he said.

In the first place, he said, the police should have “arrested this guy of Bajrang Dal, who created ruckus and disturbed Muslims praying peacefully”.

He said it was unfortunate that there was “no law to protect the dignity and religious rights of Muslims, who are equal citizens of the country.”

He said the authorities have asked Muslims, who are victims in this case, to sign the bond that they will be held responsible if the area peace is disturbed. “What if they (Muslims) are attacked by these Hindutva goons? Who will take responsibility?”, he asked.

Speaking to reporters after the incident, Rohan Saxena, the prime instigator, said they will not allow new paramparas (traditions) to emerge in the city.

“We got information that Zakir is creating a new tradition by conducting prayers with his Muslim brothers. We will not allow any such tradition to spring up in our city or the state,” he said.

He threatened to launch a campaign if FIRs were not registered and action was not taken against those who offered prayers.

After a lot of outrage on social media, Saxena was also booked under 107/ 16 CrPC and was also asked to sign a bond of Rs 20 lakhs.

The information was shared by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Katghar Police station on Muradabad Police’s Twitter handle.

The officer also appealed to the people to maintain communal harmony during the Hindu festival of Navratri and the ongoing Ramadan.

No citizen has the right to unnecessarily violate the religious rights of others, he said.

“If anyone is found disturbing prayers inside the premises of their homes, strict action will be taken against him”, the SSP warned. 

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