The Haryana Waqf Board on Monday asked the Gurugram administration to remove encroachments from its lands near mosques so that people can offer prayers, PTI reported. The board’s request came a day after Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said Muslims should offer namaaz only in mosques and not public spaces.

The Waqf board has identified 22 pieces of land in Gurugram belonging to mosques that it says have been encroached upon. “Waqf Board has written a letter to Gurgaon district administration with the list of encroached land near mosques, and asked officials concerned to remove encroachments so that the Muslim people can use it for offering namaaz,” board official Jalaluddin said. He blamed some villagers for the encroachments.

An unidentified senior official said Gurgaon District Magistrate Vinay Kumar Singh has taken cognisance of the Waqf board’s request, and asked tehsildars and other concerned officials to submit reports.

Meanwhile, Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij said on Monday that people should not hold Friday prayers so they can occupy spaces “illegally”, The Indian Express reported. “The Indian Constitution permits everyone to worship according to one’s religious faith,” he said. “But if someone wants to offer prayers so that they can encroach upon land illegally, that cannot be accepted.”

On April 20, around 500 Muslim men had gathered for Friday prayers in a field owned by the Haryana government in Sector 53 of Gurugram. Several Hindu residents from neighbouring villages allegedly disrupted the prayers, and shouted “Jai Sri Ram”. A video of the incident had later surfaced on social media, following which six persons were arrested. On May 4 as well, Hindutva groups claimed they had stopped Muslims from praying in several open spaces.