Muslim men offer namaz at Mathura temple; minister sees conspiracy
Twitter/ ANI

Police arrested a man and booked three others after a video clip showing members of their group offering namaz on the premises of a temple here surfaced on social media, officials said.

According to Mathura SP (Rural) Shrish Chandra, one of the accused--Faizal Khan--was nabbed in Delhi and being interrogated.

The other three accused in the case have been identified as Chand Mohammad, Alok Ratan and Neelesh Gupta.

Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Minister Shrikant Sharma has termed the incident as an attempt to create differences between different communities in the state and said the accused won't be spared.

According to the FIR, the accused reportedly belonged to a Delhi-based organisation, Khudai Khidmatgar, and came to Mathura's Nand Baba temple on Thursday, where they first offered prayers.

Kanha Goswami, a temple priest, said he was impressed as Faizal Khan chanted a few lines of the Ramcharitmanas and showed him their photographs with noted seers.

The priest said the group told him that they are on a "parikarma" (circumambulation) of the "Brij Chaurasi kos" on bicycles.

Later, Faizal and Chand Mohammad offered a namaz at a secluded place on the temple premises without permission, he said, adding that he had no objection to their entry to the temple but they attempted to erode the sanctity of the shrine.

It is also suspected in the FIR that the accused might have made the video of the incident that has gone viral on social media.

An apprehension about funding by a foreign organisation has also been expressed in the FIR, registered under Sections 153-A, 295 and 505 of the IPC on Sunday.

Reacting to the incident, state Power Minister Shrikant Sharma told reporters in a virtual conference, "The way they offered namaz and then made their act viral on social media shows their evil design." Stressing that the accused won't be spared and promising deterrent action, the minister said some people are finding it difficult to digest the progress made by the state.

They are trying to create hindrance by polluting the environment, the minister alleged, adding that such people are busy creating a verge between different communities in the state.

For blocking the road to progress, they are attempting to create differences between Hindus and Muslims, the minister added.

Meanwhile, an organisation representing priests sought stern action against the accused for attempting to jeopardise the communal harmony in Mathura.

Mahesh Pathak, national president of the Akhil Bharatiya Tirath Purohit Mahasabha, said their conduct is unpardonable as they tried to "spoil" the atmosphere of Mathura where people from both communities live like brothers.

He said they appeared to belong to a paid outfit, sent to destroy the communal harmony between both communities.

Stressing that Mathura had always propagated the message of love and peace in the world, Pathak requested police to take stern action against them.

He also urged people stay vigilant as such incidents may hit the tourism sector and result in economic losses.

Another temple priest said they have decided to purify the shrine as per the Hindu tradition.

"The sanctity of the temple will be revived by cleaning it with the water from the holy Ganga and Yamuna," temple priest Sushil Goshwami said.

It will be followed by a "yajna" amidst chanting of vedic hymns, he said.

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