Gorakhpur/ Lucknow: With the cacophony over their removal from atop temples and mosques having died down, loudspeakers in Uttar Pradesh have found a new place and role — in schools that plan to put them to use during cultural programmes and public awareness rallies.
Over the past two months, several such loudspeakers have been handed over to government, aided and private schools, as well as tehsil offices across the state. However, a number of loudspeakers are also lying unused, pending repairs.
School authorities are now planning to get the defunct loudspeakers fixed and use them for cultural programmes ahead of Independence Day, as well as for rallies they have to organise as part of voter awareness campaigns and the ‘School Chalo Abhiyan’, the state government’s drive to increase enrolment in primary and upper primary schools.
While addressing the media earlier this month on the occasion of his government completing 100 days of its second term, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that more than 1.2 lakh loudspeakers had either been removed from religious places or had their volume brought down.
However, according to a statement shared by the state’s home department on 20 June, 74,700 loudspeakers had been removed from religious places across UP, while 59,950 others had had their volume turned down, indicating that the total had reached 1.34 lakh.
“The total number of pieces of equipment handed over to schools after their removal from religious places is 17,791,” the statement further said.
In April, the state government had limited the use of loudspeakers for religious purposes, at a time when several states witnessed violence during religious processions on the occasions of Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti.
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‘Useful for rallies, morning prayers’
In May, Primary School Gorakhnath Kanya, located in Gorakhpur, received two loudspeakers from the local administration. These had been removed from the Gorakhnath temple, located about two kilometres from the school, principal Vibha Tiwari told ThePrint.
The school authorities, however, aren’t using either of the loudspeakers. While they had set one of them up, it soon developed a fault, which will need to be repaired with school funds before it can be put to use again. The second one was never used.
“The administration wanted it to be used for morning assembly. We fixed it on the roof and used it for about 10 days. But since it is an old loudspeaker, I think some connection went loose. We will get it fixed,” Tiwari said.
When ThePrint visited the school last Wednesday, both loudspeakers were lying at the back of a classroom.
Tiwari said the loudspeakers would mainly be used for public announcements and cultural programmes.
“They can be used in rallies to be organised under the ‘School Chalo Abhiyan’. Nowadays, primary schools have been tasked with taking out awareness rallies to urge the public to vote ahead of elections,” she further said, showing a video of a campaign called ‘Vote for Nation’, organised by the school before the state assembly elections held earlier this year.
About 28 kilometres away is Raj Public School in the historic town of Chauri Chaura. Here too, a loudspeaker from a nearby mosque was handed over to the school management. However, it’s currently lying in a storeroom in the school.
“We have a small sound system here, which works for us. We have not put up (the loudspeaker) so far, but we can do it in the coming days,” Raj Kumar Sharma, administrator of the school, told ThePrint.
Asked how the school plans to use the loudspeaker, he said it would be used “only for the purpose of prayer during morning assembly”.
At the Arya Kanya Pathshala Inter College in Lucknow’s Badshah Nagar area, a loudspeaker was handed over to the management in May. But school principal Dr Mamta Kiran Rao told ThePrint that it was defective, which is why they’re yet to set it up. The school already had two loudspeakers.
“One loudspeaker was handed over to us by the local police. It is lying defunct currently; we will get it repaired,” she said, adding that it would be “very helpful” in organising public rallies.
“Every day, some of the students gather in the ground and recite prayers, while the others do so in their respective classrooms. We had recently taken out a rally for creating awareness about road safety in June. The students have to raise slogans, which becomes difficult for on-road campaigns. Now, they will simply use the loudspeaker,” added Rao.
Another employee of Arya Kanya Pathshala, who did not wish to be named, said: “The government has given schools the responsibility of creating awareness about different government programmes. The students usually visit localities within a distance of about 1-2 km. Teachers even come on Sundays for programmes like polio vaccination and voting awareness campaigns,” he said.
On directions from the local administration, some districts started campaigns involving schoolchildren asking people to vote ahead of this year’s state assembly elections.
Defunct loudspeakers gathering dust at tehsil offices
Some loudspeakers, however, are yet to reach schools, and are gathering dust in tehsil offices.
Satish Singh, head of the Bhaisahi Naresh village in Gorakhpur, said a loudspeaker had been handed over by the police and local administration in May, to be given to the government primary school in Bhainsahi Ramdatt village, Chauri Chaura.
“The administration had handed over the loudspeaker but it is in the tehsil office because the school was closed that day. If required, we can give it to the school now,” Singh added, while speaking to ThePrint.
Ram Prakash Yadav, principal of the government primary school in Bhainsahi Ramdatt, however, said he wasn’t aware that the school was to be given a loudspeaker.
“We already have a Bluetooth-enabled speaker that was purchased as part of a government scheme. We got Rs 2,000 to purchase this. We are organising morning prayers and bal sabhas (student meetings where they can hold debates and discussions) using this,” he told ThePrint.
In February, the basic education department had provided Rs 2,000 each to government schools in order to purchase Bluetooth-enabled speakers, with the aim of improving the learning outcomes of students.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)
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