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UP: Decision to Remove Loudspeakers From Religious Places Aimed at Muslims, Allege Intellectuals

Politicisation of religious festivals by BJP-led governments will ruin country’s social fabric, say political observers.

Gorakhpur, Apr 27 (ANI): Loudspeakers are being taken down from religious places, in Gorakhpur on Wednesday.

Gorakhpur, Apr 27 (ANI): Loudspeakers are being taken down from religious places, in Gorakhpur on Wednesday. 

Lucknow: Following the directive of the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government, nearly 11,000 loudspeakers were removed from religious places till Wednesday evening.

The UP government’s action, stated to be aimed at all religious places, has been questioned by many who see the move in the holy month of Ramzan as primarily targeted at mosques.

As per the data released by the government, a total of 10,923 loudspeakers were uninstalled from various religious sites in the state and the volume of 35,221 loudspeakers was lowered, as per the parameters till 4.00 pm on Wednesday.

The home department of the state removed loudspeakers from eight zones of the state, including Agra, Meerut, Bareilly, Lucknow, Kanpur, Prayagraj, Gorakhpur, Varanasi and four commissionerates -- Lucknow, Kanpur, Gautam Buddh Nagar and Varanasi.

Out of the total, the home department removed a maximum of 2,395 loudspeakers and lowered the volume of 7,397 loudspeakers from religious places in the Lucknow zone, followed by the Gorakhpur and Varanasi zones.

On Wednesday, the home department asked the police to remove the loudspeakers and those flouting the noise limit standards at religious places across the state. The order to remove loudspeakers from religious places in the state was issued on April 24. A compliance report from the districts in this regard has been sought by April 30.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on April 21 directed that the loudspeakers at religious places should not be loud and the sound must be confined within the premises only.

He also said that microphones should not be installed and that no new loudspeakers would be allowed at religious places.

 “A state-wide drive is being undertaken to remove unauthorised loudspeakers from religious places and set the volume of others within permissible limits,” Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar told the reporters.

He added that loudspeakers are being removed “from all religious places without any discrimination.”

The issue of loudspeakers has been gaining traction ever since Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray gave an ultimatum for removal of loudspeakers in mosques by May 3.

Commenting over the loudspeaker issue, Aleemullah Khan, a senior journalist and author of a book, Baizzat Bari! (Acquitted with Honour!) told NewsClick: "It is wide open that one community is always the BJP government’s target, be it halal meat, choice of dress or loudspeaker at mosque. Earlier, this was not much known, now it has come out in the open.”

Khan questioned “how Azaan, which hardly takes two minutes, can disrupt peace and harmony? This move is purely political and Islamophobic, just to appease the majority community. This is an attempt to crush the clauses given in the Constitution and try to cover up the political failures of the current regime".

Agreeing with Khan, senior journalist Sharat Pradhan said: "The BJP government has found a subtle way to serve its purpose of targeting Muslims. The installation of loudspeakers in mosques is not from today, but has been going on since ages, while loudspeakers in temples are not prevalent. By doing this, they will send a message to their core voters that they have removed loudspeakers from mosques so as to consolidate its voters.” 

NewsClick also spoke to people of multiple faiths in rural areas, some of whom said that ever since BJP regained power in Uttar Pradesh, such controversies had become a routine affair. Many of them recalled the communal violence taking place during recent religious processions. This had never happened before 2014, they said, adding that “even petty issues are being given a Hindu-Muslim angle or communal colour which is not good for a healthy democracy.” 

Yash Malviya, author and poet based in Prayagraj (also known as Allahabad) told NewsClick: "If this decision had been taken long ago with good intentions, it would have been welcomed by all people, irrespective of faith. But taking this decision in the month of Ramzan indicates that the government has ill intentions behind this move, and is succeeding in the business of spreading hatred.”

Expressing concern over growing communal disharmony, Malviya said: “In this critical time, when religion is dominating the human mind, such a decision will damage to social fabric of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb, which is very unfortunate," adding that India was the land of festivals and “every community has been celebrating festivals together for the last many decades, but this government has turned this into politics.”

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