Mumbai: Five police teams have been formed to track down the miscreants who attacked a mass prayer meet in Maharashtra's Kolhapur district.

The Kolhapur Police and Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) are working together and have launched search operations in the border areas of Karnataka's Belgaum and Kolhapur.

At least 12 people were injured when they were attacked by a group of persons during a prayer meet, the police said on Tuesday.

Also read: No namaz in public parks in Uttar Pradesh

The victims were attending the Sunday Mass at the residence of Bhimsen Chauhan in Kolhapur's Kowad village, located on the Karnataka border, when the incident happened around noon, a police official said.

A group of 10 to 15 men armed with swords, iron rods and glass bottles reached the residence on motorcycles and attacked the congregation, he said.

"All accused had covered their faces with cloth, so they could not be identified. But locals have seen them fleeing towards Belgaum. So the police are focusing their search in the border areas of Belgaum and Kolhapur," said Kolhapur Superintendent of Police Abhinav Deshmukh.

It becomes a challenge for the state administration and the police when such incidents are reported.

UP Police bans religious activity in public parks

On Tuesday, the Uttar Pradesh Police had prohibited any religious activity, including namaz, in public parks. This was after the residents of Bishanpur village, Sector 58, Noida, had complained.

The police have asked 29 companies and offices in Noida's industrial hub to ensure that their employees don't offer namaz in open public spaces, sparking controversy.

"It is to inform you that there is no permission from the administrative authorities for any kind of religious activity including the 'namaz' offered on Fridays in the park situated in Sector 58. It has often been seen that the Muslim workers of your company assemble in the park to offer Namaz. It is expected that you inform your employees to not come to the park to offer Namaz," said a directive issued by Pankaj Rai, SHO of Sector-58 Police Station, Noida.

Officials said that according to a Supreme Court order of 2009, there is a ban on unauthorised use of public places for religious activities by all religions. 

On December 19, two people were arrested under Section 151 for violating the law.

It's our duty to maintain law and order: Haryana CM

Earlier, in April, some groups had allegedly disrupted Friday namaz in public places in Gurugram. The groups alleged that the people who had come to offer Friday prayers had intentions of land-grabbing.

On the issue, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said he did not want to stop people from offering prayers but added that law and order should be maintained.

"I haven't spoken about stopping anyone. Maintaining law and order is the duty of the police and the administration," Khattar had said.

"It is our duty to maintain law and order. There has been an increase in offering namaz in the open. Namaz should be read in mosques or idgahs rather than in public spaces," he added.

Last year, the police stepped in to stop a prayer attended by more than 150 people, including 11 American tourists in a Uttar Pradesh church. Action was taken after Hindu Yuva Vahini complained that the event was a cover for religious conversion, Hindustan Times reported.

Also, Hindu Yuva Vahini had attacked Full Gospel Church in Gorakhpur due to similar reasons.

(With inputs from PTI)