A 42-year-old Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad was on Friday arrested for using his coaching institute for community prayers, Maktoob Media reported.

The police alleged that Shaukat Ali was “running a madrasa” inside the coaching centre in Khoda’s Deepak Vihar locality. An unidentified police officer from Khoda police station told the Hindustan Times that he had been inviting a large number of people for mass prayers for several weeks.

After Hindu residents objected to the prayers, a first information report was filed against Ali.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Vivek Chandra Yadav said that students of different communities are part of the coaching centre and it cannot be used for religious activities. An unidentified Station House Officer of Khoda Police Station told Maktoob Media that the prayers were “having an influence on others in the area”.

Ali has been booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 505 (public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.

A resident said that Ali had been an imam of a mosque in the area and hailed him as a respectable man. “Praying collectively should not be a grounds for arrest,” he said.