Amid the usual hustle bustle of the millennium city, Irshad takes a break from his job and arrives at a nearby ground. It’s yet another Friday, but Irshad is hesitant as he spots policemen in the vicinity.
It all began on April 20 when a group of men gathered at the ground to offer Friday prayers but were disrupted by men shouting “Jai Shri Ram”, who asked the namaazis to dismiss. The video went viral and a week later, on April 26, six men were arrested for violence.
This Friday, there is an unusual calm in the area, which has given rise to Irshad’s hesitation as he prepares for juma.
Not a single man can be found on that plot in Wazirabad village near the high rise Ardee City, where Irshad usually offers namaaz.
In the wake of the April incident, policemen have been deployed in the area. This is the second time that they had to offer namaaz with nearly six police officers guarding the area. The first time they saw the police team on the ground was on April 27, a day after the arrests.
Irshad and the others, who have arrived at another nearby plot to namaaz, know that the policemen have come for protection but can’t ignore their presence.
“It’s odd. We have been peacefully offering our prayers for more than a decade now and have never had issues. Now also we have had no incidents of violence but with cops surrounding us is weird,” Irshad says.