Pilgrims made to do sit-ups, say sorry for offering roadside namaz

SHAHJAHANPUR  (UP), Sep 14:  Vishva Hindu Parishad activists confronted Muslim pilgrims here on their way to Ajmer, making them apologise for offering namaz by the roadside and then sending them to the local police station.

A video clip, purportedly of the incident on Sunday, showed some men holding their ears in a gesture of apology. A couple of them were seen doing sit-ups.

Activists from the right-wing group are seen confronting the group from West Bengal, asking the pilgrims if they knew that namaz in public spaces was not allowed in Uttar Pradesh.

Reports said the pilgrims had stopped their bus at a roadside eatery where the VHP activists confronted the travellers, accusing them of breaking the law.

Additional Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Vajpayee said, “Eighteen people who were on their way to Ajmer were brought to the Tilhar police station on Sunday night on a complaint that they were offering namaz on the roadside.”

“They were released after receiving an apology in writing and issuing a challan,” he told PTI.

Police fined the driver for carrying excess passengers and allowed the bus to leave for Ajmer in Rajasthan.

Local VHP leader Rajesh Awasthi, who reported the matter to police, said, “I was on my way to some place when I saw the men offering namaz on the roadside.”

Awasthi said he told them that they are in Yogi Adityanath-ruled Uttar Pradesh, where offering namaz in the open is prohibited.

In July, Uttar Pradesh Police had lodged an FIR against a group of unidentified people who allegedly offered namaz at the just-opened Lulu Mall in Lucknow. A Hindu outfit objected to this and sought permission to recite the Hanuman Chalisa there.

The FIR was registered in that case under Indian Penal Code sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 295-A (deliberate act intended to outrage religious feelings). (PTI)