LUCKNOW: Police have decided to ban religious congregations including namaz and aarti on roads across the state in a bid to ease traffic snarls and cap the possibility of communal flare-ups.
DGP OP Singh has issued directives to state police chiefs and other authorities to ensure that no religious congregations take place on the roads anywhere in the state.
On special occasions and festivals, when a huge crowd gathers on the road to offer namaz or aarti, it could be permitted but not on a routine basis, said the DGP. Giving permission for any congregation on special occasions would rest with the district authorities, he added.
The ban on namaz on roads was initially imposed in Aligarh and Meerut and now would be enforced across the state. The Aligarh district administration had even issued a detailed circular on the issue and the ban was imposed successfully.
The offering of namaz and reciting of Hanuman Chalisa on the roads had become a regular feature in Aligarh in the recent past, blocking traffic and creating the potential for communal flare-ups. This had led Aligarh DM Chandra Bhushan Singh to ban them on roads in the district.
Similarly, in Meerut, offering of namaz was banned on roads after protests by a section of society. Instances of bhajans and keertans taking place on the roads also started emerging in the district. To avoid any rift, the district administration last Wednesday appealed to namazis not to offer prayers on the roads.
Meanwhile, the DGP also asked all the district officials to hold meetings with clerics and mosque administrations to sensitize them on how namaz on roads interrupted smooth traffic flow and caused other problems.
He said other religious communities would also not be allowed to hold similar gatherings on roads as it led to inconvenience to others.
Reacting to the move, Sunni cleric and member of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali said that there were only a few mosques where prayers were being offered outside the premises. “Even we had appealed to namazis not to offer prayers on the road as it causes inconvenience to others,” he said while talking to the media.