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Monday, September 27, 2021

Old assembly building also had room allotted for namaaz: Jharkhand Speaker

Currently, the assembly has four Muslims out of the total 81 MLAs.

Written by Abhishek Angad | Ranchi |
Updated: September 8, 2021 7:37:32 am
BJP legislatures wearing traditional attire chanting Vedic hymns and reading 'Hanuman Chalisa' during a protest against Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on his decision for allocating a room to offer 'Namaz' inside Jharkhand Assembly during ongoing Budget Session in Ranchi on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)

WITH THE opposition BJP continuing to disrupt House proceedings over a notification allotting a room for offering namaaz in Jharkhand Assembly, Speaker Rabindranath Mahato on Tuesday said that the old assembly building had a room allotted for the purpose as well.

“In the old assembly building, too, there used to be a room, which had been allotted for offering namaaz,” the Speaker told The Indian Express.

On whether a similar notification was issued previously, Mahato said: “Why go till the notification part, you must check in the drawings of the old assembly building.”

The Speaker, however, said he was not sure if the old building plan can be shared. “I have to check with the officials [of the Assembly Secretariat] on what can be made public,” he said.

The Speaker was referring to the complex here used before the new assembly building was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2019.

Although Mahato refused to comment on whose orders the latest notification was issued, the September 2 order issued by Jharkhand Assembly Secretariat that was signed by Under Secretary Navin Kumar said: “In the New Vidhan Sabha building, room number TW-348 is allotted for offering namaaz. This is by the order of the Assembly Speaker.”

Currently, the assembly has four Muslims out of the total 81 MLAs.

Minority Welfare Minister Hafizul Hassan said although there had been no formal request made by him or any other Muslim MLA for a namaaz room, there are around 50 Muslims who hold various positions in the assembly whenever it is in session. “I don’t think there is any problem with the allotment of rooms. Earlier, too, we offered namaaz, but the rooms were not formally allotted,” said Hassan. “Earlier, my father [minister Haji Hussain Ansari who died last year] used to say that he, too, offered namaaz in the old assembly building.”

Senior officers The Indian Express spoke to said they were not aware if any such room was allotted in the past.

Although former Congress MP Furkaan Ansari said that in 2000, the then Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari had allotted a room in the assembly for namaaz, the latter denied it.

Singh said in the Bihar assembly of 1980s, Muslim MLAs were given a room to offer namaaz. “A few Muslim MLAs had demanded some time off from proceedings as they had to go to masjid to offer prayers. They were allowed, and later were also given a room to offer namaaz,” said Singh, who was a Bihar MLA before the state’s bifurcation in 2000.

The issue continued to disrupt House proceedings on Tuesday with BJP MLAs stepping into the Well and chanting Hanuman Chalisa and “Jai Shri Ram” slogans. They protested against the order and demanded the construction of a temple in the assembly premises.

Speaker Mahato told the protesting MLAs: “Please go back to your seats… I am pained… If you are angry, beat me but don’t disrupt the proceedings.”

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