The Karnataka government only wants to implement High Court orders banning the use of loudspeakers in mosques, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Tuesday, according to Deccan Herald.
The chief minister said that this “needs to be done by taking people into confidence”.
The Karnataka High Court had banned the use of loudspeakers in religious places last year.
Bommai’s statement came after Hindutva group Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik asked the state government to remove loudspeakers from mosques, saying they lead to noise pollution, reported The Hindu. The group has threatened to protest if the government fails to take action in the matter.
On Tuesday, Bommai said that the ban was not being implemented using force and everything will be done by talking to people and explaining them the matter.
“All these issues are old,” he said. “The orders [for ban] were issued in 2001 and 2002. We have not issued any new order. The High Court order also clearly mentioned about the decibel level to be maintained.”
Bommai said that his government has issued orders at the district level to buy decibel meters to regulate the sound volume of loudspeakers.
The chief minister, however, clarified: “It [the ban] is not only for azaan, it is for all loudspeakers.”
Bommai also said that peace meetings are being held with organisations “right from the police station all the way up to the district-level”, according to Deccan Herald.
On Monday, Karnataka minister KS Eshwarappa had said that Muslims have been using loudspeakers for azaan for a long time and it has been disturbing students, children and patients, reported PTI.
Eshwarappa added that a solution for the matter can be found by taking the Muslim community into confidence and keeping the interests of students and patients in mind.
On April 2, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray had also demanded that the use of loudspeakers at mosques should be stopped.
“If this is not stopped, there will be speakers outside mosques playing Hanuman Chalisa at higher volume,” he had said in Mumbai.
Eshwarappa, however, had said that it was not a competition to play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers to counter its use at mosques. He said this might lead to conflict between communities.
Campaigns against Muslims in Karnakata
For months now, Karnataka has been on the boil as Hindutva groups launch campaign after campaign against the state’s minorities.
In January, the groups had mobilised against wearing hijab in some colleges. Some Hindu male students had started a coordinated campaign to wear saffron scarves to class in order to force colleges to ban the hijab.
The Karnataka government had then on February 5 banned clothes that “disturb equality, integrity and public order” in educational institutions. On March 15, the Karnataka High Court had upheld the government order and ruled that wearing hijab was not essential to Islam.
In March, several temples in Karnataka had also banned Muslim traders from opening stalls at annual fairs.
Muslims have reportedly been running stalls at these fairs for many years. However, Hindutva organisations had objected to their participation after many Muslims closed their shops to protest the Karnataka High Court verdict upholding the state’s ban on wearing hijab at schools and colleges.
On March 28, Hindutva organisation Hindu Janajagruthi Samithi had carried out a campaign to boycott halal meat, ahead of “varshadodaku” – the day after the Kannada New Year festival of Ugadi when many communities have a non-vegetarian feast.
“Halal” is the Arabic word for “permissible”. Halal meat, which is sanctified by Islamic law, involves killing an animal by cutting the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe.
On March 29, BJP National General Secretary CT Ravi had called halal food “economic jihad”. He had claimed that Muslims refuse to buy meat from Hindu butchers on the grounds that it is not halal meat and asked why Hindus should buy meat from them.