Policeman caught kicking worshippers offering namaz on a Delhi road suspended after protests

Enquiry into incident ordered after video goes viral; local residents block roads in protest; security beefed up, paramilitary personnel deployed; namaz offered on road outside mosque due to space crunch

March 08, 2024 05:39 pm | Updated 10:30 pm IST - New Delhi

 A police sub-inspector kicks men who were offering namaz on the road in Inderlok area, in New Delhi, on March, 8, 2024.

A police sub-inspector kicks men who were offering namaz on the road in Inderlok area, in New Delhi, on March, 8, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

Delhi Police Sub-Inspector Manoj Kumar Tomar, who was seen kicking people offering Friday namaz on a road in north Delhi’s Inderlok area, has been suspended with immediate effect, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Manoj Kumar Meena said. An enquiry into the incident has also been initiated.

The suspension followed a protest by local residents, condemnation by political leaders, and widespread outrage on social media, with many X users demanding action against Mr. Tomar after the video of the incident went viral.

The incident took place around 2 p.m., during Friday prayers near the Inderlok metro station at the Makki Jama Masjid. A number of local residents used their phones to shoot footage of the policeman kicking and shoving people who had gathered on a section of the road to offer namaz. In the video, he can be seen stepping on the prayer mat used by the devotees, and shouting at the men to leave the area.

Roads blocked, security deployed

After the incident, Inderlok residents blocked the road, preventing vehicular movement, and demanding action against Mr. Tomar, who is a police post in-charge. Security in the area was beefed up to maintain law and order. Paramilitary personnel have been deployed. Joint Commissioner of Police (Central Range) Parmaditya and Additional Commissioner of Police (Eastern Range) Sagar Singh Kalsi also reached the spot to defuse the tense situation. The incident took place just a few days ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramzan.

A 60-year-old owner of a dairy shop located next to the Makki Jama Masjid said that he had been going to the mosque for Friday prayers since it came up in the 1970s. Nobody, including police officials, has ever disrupted the prayers in such a manner, he said, adding that due to a space crunch, people began offering prayers on the road as well.

“Earlier, when there weren’t many vehicles, we had the entire stretch of road that was used by the people offering namaz when there was no space inside the mosque. Now, it has been reduced to a short stretch to avoid any kind of public inconvenience,” he said.

‘Misuse of power’

He added said that the namaz offered during the day has been divided into two slots to reduce the numbers at the gathering. “Nobody has disrupted namaz like this. The prayer is for 10 minutes; how difficult was it to wait and then ask people to leave, in a respectful manner?” he asked.

“If you look at the videos that went viral, the people have taken up a small space. There is enough space for vehicular movement on the road; even a bus could be seen moving from one direction to another. This is just a blatant misuse of power towards a particular religious community,” the dairy shop owner added.

‘Unjustifiable’

Another 34-year-old man, who works at a local hardware store, and was present at the mosque during prayers, said: “The people were offering prayers. It is then when they were kicked in the back, and hit with hands and with lathis. They even stepped on the holy carpet that we used to sit to pray. This cannot be justified under any circumstances. Our religious beliefs were hurt because there was nobody who tried to create a ruckus. People were only offering prayers in this holy month,” he said.

He pointed out that there are people from the Muslim community itself, who stand around the area to ensure traffic movement, while prayers are going on. “There has to be public decency that needs to be maintained even during traffic management. Police is not expected to misbehave with the general public. We have lived peacefully in the Inderlok area for decades, with people of different communities. Now, there’s fear in the minds of people. Who will show up for namaz now?” the hardware store worker asked.

“The announcements about the action against the officer were made from the local mosque. The locals are with us and they have helped police ensure peace in the area,” Mr. Meena said, adding that the protesters had called off their agitation after they were shown the suspension order.

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