Amid political controversy over-allocating, a dedicated room for Namaz in a new Assembly building in Ranchi, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed over the issue before the High Court of Jharkhand.
The decision was taken by Ravindra Nath Mahto, Speaker of the Jharkhand Assembly to allot room number TW 348 for offering Namaz, prompting the BJP to demand that a Hanuman temple and places of worship of other religions also be built on the Assembly premises. On Wednesday, the opposition party also gave a call to its statewide cadre to conduct gherao of the Assembly.
The PIL was filed by Bhairav Singh raising the question whether such an allotment can be done in a building constructed on a taxpayer's money. He termed the decision as 'unconstitutional' and alleged that it has set 'a wrong precedent'.
"The Assembly building is a temple of democracy and not a personal property of anyone," Singh submitted in the PIL seeking cancellation of the notification issued by assembly Speaker Ravindra Nath Mahto on September 2.
The opposition BJP is protesting since the notification came in the public domain on September 4. Due to protests by the BJP MLAs over the Namaz room and other issues, the Speaker has to postpone the assembly proceedings till 2 PM on Wednesday.
The Speaker has defended his decision by saying that, "the BJP has created unwanted controversy and the assembly stands by the decision. Earlier in the old Assembly building, a room was used for Namaz every Friday while after shifting in the new building, a space is provided so can Muslim brothers offer prayers."
While ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Congress welcomed it, opposition BJP has strongly protested against the decision and initiated agitation by terming it 'appeasement politics' being played by the state government.
The issue also reached the adjoining Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Irfan Solanki, a legislator of the Samajwadi Party, has demanded allocation of room for Namaz in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, like the facility provided by the Jharkhand government. On the other side, BJP MLA from Bihar, Hari Bhushan Thakur has sought permission for chanting Hanuman Chalisa in the Assembly.
With PTI inputs