Varanasi: For the first time, Muslims of Uttar Pradesh have been asked by a Shia cleric to participate in the cleaning up operations of the holy river Ganga, revered by millions across India.

The appeal exhorting Muslims of the state to participate in the 'Save Ganga' movement, currently underway in Varanasi, was made on Friday by eminent Shia cleric and member of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Kalbe Jawwad.

In Varanasi to lend his support to the movement, Jawwad appealed to the Muslim community to "actively participate" in the cleaning of the river Ganga and allayed fears that any such activity would be treated against the community.

There was nothing in Islam that banned Muslims from participating in the clean-Ganga operations, taken up by a section of local people, Hindu priests and NGOs, he said.

"Despite the fact that the river had been declared a national river by the Indian government, no serious efforts have been undertaken to stop pollution in the river," Jawwad said.

Jawwad further added that the issue was not just related to the faith of Hindus but also involved millions, including Muslims, who were irked at the condition the Ganga was in.