Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday said that offering namaz should not become a “show of strength”, and that necessary permissions should be taken if people wanted to pray in open spaces, reported PTI.

“It is inappropriate to hold prayers in public places,” Khattar said during an event of the Indian Women’s Press Corps in New Delhi. “Namaz should remain namaz and not become a show of strength.”

The chief minister added that everyone was free to worship and pray, but it should be done at specific places. He said if differences cropped up over offering prayers then people could approach the local authorities to mediate.

Khattar on Tuesday described the disruption of Christmas celebrations at a private school in Haryana’s Pataudi town as unfortunate. He, however, added that he could not say if the incident was avoidable or not.

“It should not have happened,” he said, according to The Hindu. “It is not right to interrupt any function. They [Hindutva supremacists] should either object before or after the function. If there are any apprehensions, they can be resolved. People of all groups should sit and talk, there are peace committees as well.”

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On December 21, Khattar had said in the state Assembly that people of no faith should offer religious prayers in public places. The chief minister had on December 10 said that offering namaz in public spaces cannot be tolerated.

Giving in to demands of the Hindutva groups, the Gurugram district administration, in the last three months, had withdrawn permission for offering namaz at eight out of 37 public spaces that were designated for prayers.

Namaz disruptions

Almost every Friday in recent months, offering of namaz has been disrupted by Hindutva groups.

On December 17, Hindutva groups had disrupted namaz at a park in the Udyog Vihar are of the city. Videos shared on social media showed them forcing people to chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. On that day, Muslims had stayed away from Sector 37 grounds, which is one of the designated sites for namaz in Gurugram.

This specific namaz site has seen several disruptions over the last one month. Hindutva groups had protested on November 20 against Muslims offering prayers at Sector 37 ground, claiming that they wanted to play cricket there.

The groups had also organised a havan ceremony on November 26 at the site to mark the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

On November 5, members of the Hindutva groups had organised a in Sector 12A, after which they spread cow dung across the ground. At the same site, on November 7, those who gathered to prevent the prayers had claimed that a volleyball court will be set up there.