All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Wednesday criticised the Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh after the police in Noida issued an order banning namaz in public spaces, PTI reported. Owaisi said the government was showering petals on kanwariyas (devotees of Shiva) but was issuing notices against Muslims.

The Noida Police asked companies working in the city’s industrial hub to ensure their employees do not offer namaz on Friday in the Authority park in Sector 58. Companies will be held liable if their employees continue to do so, the notice sent by the police warned. The district administration said unauthorised religious gatherings would not be allowed at public places.

“UP Cops literally showered petals for Kanwariyas, but namaz once a week can mean ‘disrupting peace & harmony’,” Owaisi said on Twitter. “This is telling Muslims: ‘Aap kuch bhi karlo, ghalti to aapki hi hogi.’ [Irrespective of what you do, it will always be your fault.] Also, by law, how does one hold an MNC liable for what their employees do in individual capacity?”

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati also criticised the directive, calling it “improper and arbitrary”, PTI reported. “If the Adityanath government in the state has any such policy of banning religious activities at public places, why is it not being implemented on people belonging to all religions and in all the districts of the state without any discrimination?” Mayawati said in a press release.

The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister wondered why such a policy had been initiated prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, if namaz was being offered in the parks since 2013. “This also strengthens the doubt that the Bharatiya Janata Party regime wants to divert attention from its failures and shortcomings by creating such religious controversies,” she added. Mayawati claimed that BJP leaders were frustrated following the party’s defeat in the recent Assembly elections in five states.

Meanwhile, authorities in Greater Noida cancelled a Hindu religious event after finding that it lacked requisite permission, PTI reported. The nine-day Bhagwat Katha was scheduled to begin on Wednesday on government land.

“The programme was being held on a 1,000-square-metre land area which belongs to the Greater Noida Authority,” an official told the news agency. “However, no permission was sought by the organisers for the programme so we cancelled it.”

Officials of the Greater Noida authority said tents and loudspeakers were being installed at the site since Tuesday night, and 25-30 people had gathered by Wednesday morning.