The police in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district have arrested three men for allegedly stopping a Muslim man from offering namaz at a mosque after he participated in the Kanwar Yatra of Hindu devotees, PTI reported on Sunday. Inspector Devendra Bisht said the police were looking for another accused.
The Kanwar Yatra is an annual pilgrimage undertaken by devotees of Shiva during Shravan, the fifth month in the Hindu calendar (July-August). The pilgrims visit Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri in Uttarakhand, and Sultanganj in Bihar. The pilgrims, called kanwariyas, walk home barefoot carrying water from the Ganga in pots suspended from poles slung across their shoulders. They often traverse hundreds of kilometres, and offer the river water to Shiva shrines back home.
The Muslim man, identified as Babu Khan, said he had gone to Haridwar as a Kanwar and offered water at the temples. “My purpose was just to live the experience of a Kanwar Yatra pilgrim, to understand what they go through in this strenuous exercise of walking all the way from Haridwar carrying all that water,” Khan told The Times of India. “I am still a devout Muslim, but some people abused me on Friday.”
The accused, however, reportedly claimed that they had stopped Khan from entering the mosque because he was inebriated.
The inspector said the situation in the village of Racharh village, where Khan lives, was peaceful.
Deepak Banmauli, the district president of a Hinduva outfit called the Hindu Jagran Manch, said: “The manch is with Babu Khan and if anyone harasses him, we will not tolerate it.”