Faisal Khan, runs Khudai Khidmatgar, an organisation that aims to promote communal harmony in the country. He and three others from his team were arrested on November 2 in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. An FIR was registered against him and the others for allegedly offering namaz, the Muslim prayer, in the Nand Baba temple premises without permission.
Khan has been on a communal harmony tour, visiting many places, including temples, meeting people and on the last day of the ‘84 kos’ trip had visited the famed Nand Baba Mandir on October 28. Initial videos of his interaction with the attendants, and the priest at the temple showed that it just takes a warm gesture to start relationships. His interactions with the Hindu men seemed to be what the millennials call ‘friendship goals’, the banter ranged from anecdotes from socio religious history illustrating communal harmony. The clip ends with the priest offering him a small leaf bowl of prasad, and inviting them to stay for a meal.
However, soon after this video, some more images of Khan and an associate offering namaz in the temple courtyard went viral. It was then that things took a turn for the worse. It was alleged that Khan offered the namaz in a Hindu temple without permission of the authorities. The priest who had been talking to Khan in the earlier clip then reportedly registered an FIR, following which Khan was arrested on November 2. According to Khan’s associate as it was noon and time for the Zuhr namaz the Hindu priest himself said the Muslim visitors could offer their prayers in the premises. “We thought we would leave the place and offer namaz, but after they said it was a prayer of devotional songs we offered our namaz after their permission,” stated Khudai Khidmatgar.
Peace activist Faisal Khan, is the National convenor of Khudai Khidmatgar, an organisation founded by freedom fighter Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan better known as Frontier Gandhi. According to the organisation’s statement issued after Faisal Khan was arrested, he was on a five-day yatra or pilgrimage, from October 24-29, 2020, to Braja, or the land of the Hindu god Krishna.
The photos may be seen on Khan’s social media pages, posted on the day of the visit: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000984213442
Pawan Yadav, spokesperson Khudai Khidmatgar has stated that those present at the temple allowed Khan to offer namaz in the temple compound itself. He stated that the temple priest and others told Khan, “You are already in the home of God so why do you need to go anywhere else?” After Faisal Khan completed his prayers they stayed on and accepted the lunch invite in the same temple.
Khan returned to Delhi, but three days later he was told that “some people” were “not happy” with what happened on October 29 and will lodge a police complaint. The Uttar Pradesh police arrested Khan on November 2, charged him under section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 295 (defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) and 505 (public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code. The FIR, which was registered on November 1 with the Barsana police station in Mathura, names has been registered against Faisal Khan, Chand Mohammad, Aalok Ratan and Nilesh Gupta, reported The Quint.
The organisation has opposed “all the allegations put on Faisal Khan, his associates Chand Mohd., Nilesh Gupta and Sagar Ratna.” They state that Khan and the team focus on communal harmony, and work to “counter any forms of religious extremism in this society”. They added that “many Hindu religious institutions have appreciated and acknowledged the work of Faisal khan for his uncompromised work for peace and brotherhood.”
However the organisation has apologised for any sentiments hurt and stated, “If anybody individual or organization feels that we have hurt their sentiments then we are sorry for that but still want to add it was never our intention.”
According to a report by The Quint, after his arrest in the evening on November 2 Khan was taken to Jamia Nagar police station, and then handed over to Uttar Pradesh police. The news report quotes the FIR stating: “Without informing or taking permission from those at the temple premises, they offered their namaz here. Those who came with them took photos of them praying and posted it on social media, after which it became viral. This is also being shown in the news. Because of their acts, the sentiments of the Hindu community have been hurt. We are apprehensive that they will incorrectly use the image of the temple. We also have our apprehensions regarding this organisation and if it is getting funding from foreign Muslim institutions and has relations with them. We would like an investigation as we are worried that they did this to hurt the harmony in the area.”
It quotes Yadav refuting all charges adding, “Selective pictures are being shared on social media. Those in the temple are right there behind them when they are offering prayers. No one was hiding anything and nor did anyone at the temple have a problem at all. If they did have one, they would have stopped them right there right?”
According to India TV news, the temple authorities, meanwhile, conducted a ‘purification’ ritual at the courtyard where Khan is shown to have offered namaz. The India TV, headlines it as ‘2 Muslim’s among 4 named in FIR’. The men at the temple are now demanding ‘strict action’ against Khan and his team for ‘hurting religious sentiments’.
The entire statement of Khudai Khidmatgar may be read here:
*Khudai Khidmatgar Statement on the Arrest of Gandhian Peace activist Faisal Khan*
November 2, 2020
Gandhian social activist Faisal Khan, National convenor of Khudai Khidmatgar a Gandhian Organization being established by Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan was on a five-day pilgrimage (Yatra), dated 24-29 October 2020, to the holy land of Krishna, Braja. He was participating in the ancient Chaurasi Kosi Yatra of Govardhan. In his Yatra he met with several peoples as well as the priest of various temples.
One can see the videos, pictures of his yatra which are available on his Facebook profile. There were great discussions about the philosophy of Hinduism, verses of Tulsidas g, Raskhan g and Rahimdas.
On the last day of his pilgrimage, Faisal Khan visited the holy temple of “Nand Baba”. He paid his obeisance there. That was the time of his afternoon prayers, so he asked for a suitable place. The people who were there in the temple allowed him to offer prayers in the temple compound itself by saying that you are already in the home of God so why do you need to go anywhere else. Hearing it, Faisal Khan completed his prayers. After it he and other members stayed in the Temple for some more time and they had their lunch in the same temple.
Faisal Khan and we all as the members of Khudai Khidamatgar have full faith in Humanity as well as the Rule of Law. Our efforts were, are, and always will be for the betterment of the society.
We are continuously trying to put our views from different platforms through a disciplined and inclusive approach.
Thanks and Regards
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