Security was tightened at Meerut’s Shastri Nagar area after a clash involving two communities on Wednesday night. The incident happened after BJP-led Hindu groups objected to Muslims offering namaz at a tomb. According to the BJP, the function, held close to the gole mandir in Sector-3, was a first and they did not want a “new tradition” to begin. A Muslim group, however, denied this and said they had often offered namaz there.
Soon after the moon was sighted on Wednesday, marking the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan, many people gathered at the tomb to offer prayers. However, certain Hindu outfits’ members arrived and objected to this. The arguments soon spiralled out of control leading to a clash. People from both sides pelted stones at each other.
The police were informed of the incident and managed to control the ruckus. Two persons were injured in the clash. “No arrests were made in this connection and leaders of both communities have given in writing that they will not begin a new tradition at the tomb which means that the status quo will remain. We have deployed police force in strength as a precautionary measure,” SSP (Meerut) Rajesh Kumar Pandey told The Indian Express.
When contacted, BJP Shastri Nagar traders’ cell general secretary Jatin Chandana said that it was for the first time that “hundreds” had gathered at the tomb, which is located in an area with few Muslims, to offer namaz. “We are not opposed to prayers by any community. But we will not allow any new thing to begin in our area,” he said.
Another BJP leader, an office-bearer in the party’s district unit, Kamal Dutt Sharma compared the situation to Hindus praying at a temple in Chatta Anantram, a Muslim-dominated locality in Meerut. “We never go there to offer prayers. What will be the situation if we go to that that temple in hundreds to perform pooja?” he asked.
Meanwhile, chief of Yuva Sewa Samiti Badar Ali said that members from his community used to visit the Shastri Nagar tomb and offered prayers inside the tomb. “Our Hindu brothers have objected when worshippers assembled outside the tomb in large numbers. Leaders of both the communities have given in writing to the authorities concerned that we will not let anyone vitiate the communal atmosphere of Meerut on such trivial grounds,” said Ali.
On Tuesday, Meerut Mayor Sunita Verma, of the BSP, had sought to cancel cultural programmes at the Nauchandi fair here contending that the loud music could distract Muslim worshippers when they offered prayers, but this was shot down after BJP councillors objected.