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‘Bhajans to counter azaan’: Sri Ram Sene takes cue from MNS, wants mosque loudspeakers banned

Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik says despite ‘multiple memorandums to district administration… this coward govt has refused to crack down on loudspeakers in mosques’.

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Bengaluru: After calls to ban and boycott Muslim businesses at temple fairs, and the campaign against halal meat, Hindutva organisations in Karnataka are demanding a ban on loudpseakers in mosques.

Taking a cue from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik has urged the government to prohibit loudspeakers at mosques. 

Loudspeakers are used for the azaan, or the Muslim call to prayer, made five times a day.

In a video statement issued to members of the Sri Ram Sene, Muthalik said “we completely back Raj Thackeray’s stand”, referring to the MNS chief’s Gudi Padwa address last week where he said if the practice of loudspeakers at mosques “is not stopped, there will be speakers outside mosques playing Hanuman Chalisa at a higher volume”.

Muthalik said despite “multiple memorandums to the district administration” from Sri Ram Sene workers, “this coward, spineless government has refused to crack down on loudspeakers in mosques”. 

“We, too, will start playing bhajans on loudspeakers at 5 am at every temple and every mutt,” Muthalik added, saying the loudspeakers were violating norms in ‘silent zones’ around premises like schools, hospitals and government utilities.

The Sri Ram Sene’s warning of countering the azaan with bhajans comes at a time when the state government has refused to initiate action against Hindutva organisations’ calls to boycott Muslim businesses at temple fairs, and establishments selling halal meat during Ugadi. 

Communal tensions in the state have been on a high since the months-long row triggered by the ban on hijabs issued by certain government educational institutions in the state.

‘Onus on Muslims to resolve matter’

The Sri Ram Sene’s demand to prohibit loudspeakers at mosques found partial backing from Karnataka Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K.S. Eshwarappa. 

“For many years now, we have been hearing complaints about how loudspeakers from mosques are disturbing students, elderly people. They have to be removed but with the consent of Muslim community. It is disturbing their children too,” Eshwarappa told reporters Monday.

Saying it wasn’t a competition between the azaan and bhajans, Eshwarappa put the onus of resolving the matter on the Muslim community. 

“You are blaring on the loudspeaker but what will happen if Hindus start playing loud bhajans in temples or in front of your mosques tomorrow or Christians also start using loudspeakers?” he added. “It will only disrupt harmony and hence the community should resolve it.” 

Last month, the BJP-ruled municipal corporation in Chikkamagaluru said it would begin verifying “illegal” loudspeakers at places of worship, citing complaints from citizens. 

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

Also Read: ‘We’re against interfaith relationships’: Sri Ram Sene offshoot suspected in Belagavi murder


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