A day after the Noida administeration faced flake for banning Friday namaaz at a public park, authority in the neighbouring Greater Noida today stopped an 'unauthorised' Bhagwat Katha event scheduled to be held on a government land.
A nine-day Bhagwat Katha was to begin on Wednesday in Greater Noida's residential Sector 37, officials said. However, the authorities forced the organisers to cancel the event after it was found that they lacked the requisite permission.
Officials of the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority removed the tents, stage and loudspeaker this morning from the land plot, leading to a protest by its organisers. The land plot belongs to the Authority.
"They have not been granted any permission for the programme. If they still carry it out, it would be illegal," Authority's Officer on Special Duty Sachin Singh told PTI.
The local police said they had nothing to do with the action taken by the Authority.
"The action was taken by authority officials and the police personnel who are attached with the authority. No officials of the district police or from local Kasna police station were there," Greater Noida (1st) Circle Officer Nishank Sharma said.
Two small concrete structures have also come up in the 1000-sq metre on the land piece where religious events have been held in the past also, according to locals.
"These structures are also illegal," an authority official at the site told PTI, requesting anonymity.
The tents, stage and loudspeakers were being installed at the site from Tuesday night, he said.
Around 10 AM, when the Greater Noida authority officials reached there, everything was set up and 25-30 people had gathered, anther official, who did not wish to be identified, said.
"The sector's resident welfare association was also not involved in organising the programme, whose main organisers came from outside this sector," the official said.
The plot was cleared of encroachment by 5 pm, even though officials stayed put there.
Earlier this month, a police station in Noida's Sector 58 had asked 23 private companies to stop their Muslim employees from gathering in a local park without permission for offering Friday namaaz there.
The district administration had Tuesday said "unauthorised" religious gatherings will not be allowed at public places.
The Friday prayer order drew flak from politicians with BSP president and former UP chief minister Mayawati saying such a policy, if at all, should be implemented in all districts and people from all religions.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi also criticised it.
In a media release in Lucknow, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief said, "If the Yogi Adityanath government in the state has any such policy of banning religious activities at public places, why is it not being implemented on people belonging to all religions and in all the districts of the state without any discrimination."
Slamming the order, Owaisi tweeted, "UP cops literally showered petals for Kanwariyas, but namaz once a week can mean disrupting peace & harmony."
(With inputs from PTI)