The line is getting heated with loudspeakers playing Azan in the mosque as the matter has already spread from Maharashtra to Karnataka in the south.
In Mumbai, after their chief Raj Thackeray demanded that the practice be stopped, MNS activists were reportedly trying to set up loudspeakers to play Hanuman Chalisa at various places. Top MNS leaders said it was not a planned strategy, but workers were doing it on their own. In Karnataka, meanwhile, Minister Ashwath Narayan has emphasized the permissible decibel level on the Azan issue.
Narayan said, “… whatever is said in the law will be implemented. Whatever the decibel level allowed under the law, it should be followed. ”
The Muslim community has long used loudspeakers to call for prayers, imitating the ancient tradition of calling mosque officials to the public for religious prayers.
Last week, MNS chief Raj Thackeray demanded that loudspeakers be turned off at mosques. “If it is not stopped, more Hanuman Chalisa will be played outside the mosque,” he said in Mumbai.
Soon after Thackeray’s remarks, the issue spread to Karnataka, where there has already been controversy over the use of halal meat and hijab by students in educational institutions. Some right-wing parties and BJP leaders have called for an end to the use of loudspeakers in mosques, saying it is “annoying”.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bomai, however, said that the issue of Azan would be resolved with confidence and not by force. Bomai told the media that there was a high court order regarding Azan and there was one more order than to know why the first one was not implemented.
The High Court order even called for the installation of decibel meters at the sound decibel level and at the district level, he said. “It’s a job that needs to be done with confidence, not by force,” he added.
The statement came after senior minister KS Ishwarappa said Muslim leaders should keep in mind that speakers were confined to places of worship and did not “disturb” people in the vicinity. He said there were allegations that the call to prayer in the morning annoyed students and patients. However, he said that playing Hanuman Chalisa in return was not a competition and it could lead to communal conflict.
Opposition Congress has condemned the ruling BJP in Karnataka
Opposition in Karnataka as well as the ruling coalition in Maharashtra have both objected to the demands of the MNS as well as other right-wing groups. Former Karnataka Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah has accused the ruling BJP of raising communal issues for political gain in the run-up to the Assembly elections. He also noticed the bombing for its “silence” and “weakness.”
He said, “Speakers have been installed in temples, mosques and churches for a long time. What harm has it done to man so far? Asked the opposition leader, “Is the Chief Minister so weak that he is unable to take action against those who cause unrest in the society?”
In Maharashtra, Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil stopped his speech in the Shiru area of Pune to address the controversy when Muslims were being urged to pray. A video of the incident has gone viral on social media platforms. His cabinet colleague Ajit Pawar did the same while speaking in Pune shortly before.
Speaking at another event, Wallace Patil said there were a number of real issues to discuss, such as rising petrol prices, inflation, unemployment and weak economic conditions, but attempts were being made to create communal tensions.
(With input from PTI)
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