Lucknow: Yogi Adityanath, who had directed that Janmashtami celebrations be held in police stations in Uttar Pradesh, has said there was nothing wrong in the order since Muslims also prayed on roads. The Chief Minister said he had "no right" to stop the celebrations in thanas.
"If I cannot stop the performing of Eid prayers on the roads, I have no right to stop Janmashtami functions in thanas," he said at an event organised in Lucknow last night by the Prerna Jansanchar Evam Shidh Sansthan, Noida, and the Lucknow Jansanchar Evam Patrakarita Sansthan.
Reacting to the chief minister's remarks, All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Zafaryab Jilani said it would be wrong to compare the celebration of Janmashtami in police stations with the offering of namaz on the streets.
"There is no harm in offering namaz on the streets or even doing worship there. But using government machinery (police) to facilitate worship within the premises of a police station is wrong," he told PTI.
The state government's order that the festival be held in a "grand but dignified" manner in police stations had drawn flak from the opposition-- the Congress and Samajwadi.
The Congress criticised the government for being insensitive as the celebration order came in the wake of the deaths of infants in a state-run hospital in Gorakhpur.
The Samajwadi Party, too, had condemned the order.
The government ordered last week that the celebrations to mark the birth of Lord Krishna -- be held in police stations and prisons. Legend has it that the Hindu god was born in a prison in Mathura.
Referring to the use of microphones, DJs and music systems during the recent kanwar yatra -- an annual pilgrimage of Shiv devotees - Mr Adityanath said, "I was very surprised when voices were raised that there should be no DJ, mikes or music during the kanwar yatra. I felt (without music) would it be a kawar yatra or shav yatra (funeral)."
If there were no damru-dhols --percussion instruments linked with Lord Shiv -- and music, how would it be a kanwar yatra, he wondered. "I said in UP there will be no ban," he said.
The chief minister pointed out there were 4 crore kanwar yatris, but there was no disorder anywhere between Ghaziabad and Haridwar, the route followed by many devotees.
"This is discipline. When you put a ban on their discipline and play with their emotions, then there will be a problem," he said.
He said if it could be ensured that microphones were banned everywhere and no sound emanated from any place of worship, a ban on DJs or music could be enforced during the kanwar yatra.
If it was not possible to ban microphones everywhere, the yatra would continue in the usual way, he said.