Companies Will Not be Held Liable, Says Noida DM After Backlash Over Namaz Notice
Noida: The district administration of Noida has assured that companies would not be held liable if their employees offer namaz at public parks in the city after a notice issued by a local police officer sparked outrage.
In damage control mode over the diktat, district magistrate BN Singh, said, “Companies and business houses are not liable for employees' religious beliefs and prayers. The district administration will talk to the companies and clear their doubts."
Police chief Ajay Pal Sharma, who had till Tuesday said the order was necessitated by people congregating without permission, said the notice was not specific to any one religion and was concerned all religious public gatherings.
This despite the specific wording of the notice. “We want to inform you that there is no permission from the administration to conduct any kind of religious activity including namaz offered on Friday in the Authority park in Sector 58,” the notice, which was issued last week from the Sector 58 police station, said.
The notice signed by SHO Pankaj Rai and sent to the companies, further stated, "It has come to notice that the Muslim employees of your company gather in the Noida Authority's park to offer prayers. I have asked them not to do so and there is no permission been given by the city magistrate to their application. Hence, it is expected that you would inform your Muslim employees that they should not go to the park for offering namaz.”
“If they still do, it'll be seen as your failure to inform them and you will be held responsible," it added. The notice insisted on a permission from the government for any religious gathering at a public place citing a 2009 Supreme Court order.
The district magistrate told Times of India that the notice only concerned the Noida Authority Park in Sector 58 and not the entire city. Singh said the SHO had acted with "bonafide", and not "malafide", intentions.
The police had defended the move, citing communal concerns, especially ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
SHO Pankaj Rai said the notices were sent following complaints about “a large number of people offering namaz in the afternoon, especially on Fridays”. He said the size of the gathering had swollen from 15-20 people to over 500 lately.
“Since most people offering prayers are employees in companies nearby, we have sent notices to those companies to ask their employees to either offer namaz in a mosque, Eidgah or within the office compound, on the roof, etc,” Rai said.
Adil Rashid, who organises the Friday prayers at the park, alleged that earlier this month a man wearing a saffron scarf had visited the prayer site and made videos with his phone.
"He threatened us to shut the namaz practice. Following this, the local cop sent notices to companies holding them responsible for employees' religious beliefs and practices," Rashid added.
Rai said his concern was about law and order. "Tomorrow, if some other group comes and says we want to organise puja, there can be tension. It is a Noida Authority park where no function like weddings, etc can be organised. Whether Hindu or Muslim, such functions will be stopped," the SHO told TOI.