A day after Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said namaz should be restricted to mosques and idgahs rather not open spaces, BJP minister Anil Vij too weighed in on the matter saying “offering prayers at a place with the intention of grabbing land is wrong and will not be allowed”.

“Occasionally agar kisi ko padhni pad jaati hai to dharm ki aazaadi hai.Lekin kisi jagah ko kabza karne ki niyat se namaaz padhna galat hai.Uski ijazat nahi di jaa sakti (Occasionally if people want to read namaz, they have the freedom to practice their religion. However, offering namaz at a place with the intention of grabbing land is not right. No permission can be granted for this).”

The comments come in the wake of certain right-wing groups preventing Muslims from offering namaz in open spaces in Gurugaon during the two last weeks. Alleging that attempts are being made to grab land, various groups have called for a ban on the practice of offering namaz in open spaces.

In his first remarks on the issue, CM Khattar on Sunday said, “Humara kehna hai ki jo namaz padne ke sthaan hain, namaz padni hi chahiye. Namaz masjid me padni chahiye, namaz eidgah me padni chahiye, aur namaz padne ka unka sthaan kam padta hai to apne niji sthaan par padni chahiye. Ye aisee vishay nahi hai jinka sarvajanahik sthano par pradarshan ho (In our point of view, namaz should be offered at designated places. Namaz should be offered at mosques and eidgahs. And if there is a shortage of space, then namaz should be offered in a private place. This is not something which should be displayed at public places). Hours later, he also added that the police is resposible for maintaining law and order in the area. “If anyone has any problem regarding offering of prayers at public places, he could inform the administration and the police,” he added.

Meanwhile, Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) chief Ashok Tanwar criticised Khattar for his statement. “Many of the religious and social functions are held in public spaces… In case of scarcity of space, people use public places (for such events). The chief minister’s statement doesn’t show equal treatment for all… The BJP and RSS always have an agenda of playing with religious sentiments and disturbing communal harmony,” he said.