Karnataka witnessed high tension in the recent past with the hijab controversy. Soon after, there were increasing disputes with the boycott of Muslim traders and halal meat. With the end of Ugadi and the start of Ramazan, things haven’t quietened yet. Now, Hindu activists have begun raising their voices against loudspeakers at mosques, demanding the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict.
A day after Maharashtra Navnirma Sena (MNS)chief Raj Thackeray asked the Maharashtra government to remove loudspeakers from mosques, Sri Ram Sena’s Karnataka president Siddalinga Swami welcomed it. He went a step further and urged the Karnataka government to take action against the use of loudspeakers installed at masjids across the state.
“Maharashtra's Raj Thackeray has given a directive to the Maharashtra government regarding the problems caused by loudspeakers installed in masjids. Many people are facing problems due to loudspeakers. They've urged the government to take legal action against those causing such problems. We welcome this move. Even in Karnataka, these loudspeakers are causing a lot of problems in both villages and cities. Ramazan has just started. They use the loudspeakers in the morning and evening. This causes a lot of noise pollution. Last December, Sri Rama Sena had campaigned to remove loudspeakers from masjids. We had requested the government, but they took no action. The government must intervene and take legal action against those using loudspeakers at masjids. If the government does not pay heed to our request, Sri Rama Sena will stage rigorous protests,” he said.
Agreeing with him, Pramod Muthalik of Sri Ram Sena, a controversial figure, said, “Hospitals, schools, government offices, and residential areas are part of the silent zone. In these four areas, the use of loudspeakers at mosques is disturbing the peace. So, we have started our fight against this.” Muthalik even threatened the state government claiming that Hindu activists will soon start using mikes at all temples and monasteries at 5 am.”
According to reports, the Supreme Court had delivered a verdict on the use of loudspeakers at mosques. According to the court order, the message is loud and clear. Loudspeakers cannot be used from 10 pm to 6 am. At other times, the decibel levels during the day in industrial areas are marked at 75 dB, commercial areas - 65 dB, residential areas - 55 dB and silent zones - 50 dB. And during evenings, the decibel levels in the industrial areas stand at 70 dB, commercial areas - 55 dB, residential areas - 45 dB, and silent zones - 40 dB.
“This court order applies to all religious sites - be it temples, churches, or mosques,” said Maulana Maqsood Imran Rashidi, Imam, Jamia Masjid, and Bengaluru.
He further stated that devices have been prepared by their community, which lock the decibel levels of loudspeakers at mosques. “Even if you increase the volume, you cannot,” the Imam explained. According to him, these devices have been installed at all mosques across Bengaluru and major districts of Karnataka. “We do not want to inconvenience others. These devices have been checked and verified by the cops as well as those from the departments of pollution and noise control,” he added.
Congress termed it as a controversy triggered to unfurl the “RSS agenda”. Kengal Renu, the party spokesperson, said, “These activists are strengthening the RSS agenda and its vote bank. They are merely diverting attention from the economic woes that the state is suffering from.”
The ruling government has distanced itself from the issue. “The Supreme Court verdict is our parameter, and not an individual’s judgment,” said BJP spokesperson S Prakash, adding that the government must ensure the implementation of the Supreme Court order delivered earlier.
If the activists make the ‘right’ noises, they may avoid getting the silent treatment from the government of Karnataka.