The Bengaluru Police have started seizing microphones from places of worship where noise levels have crossed the threshold set by the Supreme Court, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court, in July 2005, had ordered that noise levels at public places where loudspeakers were being used could not exceed ten decibels above the ambient noise levels for the area or 75 decibels, whichever is lower. In January 2021, the Karnataka High Court had told the state government to take action against loudspeakers that violate noise pollution laws, according to The Hindu.
Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant said that several microphones have been seized from religious places, and added that the police drive will continue.
The development comes amid a campaign by Hindutva groups asking the state government to remove loudspeakers from mosques, saying that they lead to noise pollution. A Hindutva group, the Shri Ram Sene, has threatened to protest if the government fails to act in the matter.
On Tuesday, Pant called for “scrupulous adherence” to the High Court’s directive, the Deccan Herald reported. He said that the police were educating people on the norms. Pant added that the rules were being enforced across the state capital, including at all religious places.
The police chief said that till February 2, the police had issued 230 notices to temples, mosques and churches for violations of noise pollution norms. He added that notices have also been issued to pubs, restaurants and industries for violating the court orders.
The police have issued notices to 125 mosques, 83 temples, 22 churches, 12 industries and 59 pubs, bars and restaurants, according to the Deccan Herald.
Maqsood Imran, the Khatib-o-Imam (a Muslim priest who delivers sermons during Friday prayers) at the Jama Masjid in Bengaluru said that mosques have been installing devices to control noise pollution on their loudspeakers, PTI reported.
“We also want to ensure that the Supreme Court order is followed,” he said. “That’s why we have readied the device and started fixing it in all the mosques. That device has already been installed in our Jama Masjid.”
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.
Anti-Muslim campaigns in Karnataka
Since January, Karnataka has seen several Hindutva groups launch campaign after campaign against the state’s minorities.
In January, the groups had expressed their opposition against wearing of hijab by students 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.
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.