Notice on loudspeakers leave religious preachers tense

Bangalore Social and Religious

Police said that places of worship did not need permission to use loudspeakers before.

Shivaskanda stands calmly in front of the Balambika temple in the heart of bustling Shivajinagar. The area, known for its noisy markets, has a variety of temples, mosques, and churches. He is the third generation in his family to take care of the temple.  But now, he is tense because of the notice issued yesterday by the state government.

The notice calls for the implementation of The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.  This law states that all existing loudspeaker users must get written permission from the Designated Authority (DA) within 15 days. If they fail to get this permit, the DA will remove them.  The rule applies to mosques, temples, churches and marriages.

“So far, we haven’t taken any permission for smaller events, but during festivals we take permission. We pay a fee,” Shivaskanda said.

The notice has been issued amid the controversy involving the azaan (prayer) played on mosque loudspeakers in the city—right wing groups want the government to take action against mosques.

“We don’t want to; infact any place of religious worship doesn’t want to disturb anybody for our ‘ibadat’. We are keeping the volume low from some time as per the instructions. It feels like it’s all a political agenda because it has never been a problem before,” Shafiq Ahmed, Trustee, Charminar Masjid said.

Babu Khan, Maulvi, Charminar Dargah, said the new rule will affect prayers. “Now, azaan will only be played three times a day,” he said.

But police officials say that religious places need to take permission. Veerbhadra, station writer, Shivajinagar Police Station, said, “There are 15-17 masjids and temples here, 5-6 churches. We do not give any permission to use mics to anyone. We do not issue the permit. Also, with the new notice, they have to remove their loudspeakers. And only when you take permission can you reinstall them,” he said.

Residents in Shivajinagar say that they have not faced any disturbance.

Azmat, a tailor right outside the Masjid, said that religious communities live peacefully in Shivajinagar.  “What is happening right now is wrong, azaan has been playing here since always. They are just trying to increase the gap and this will increase our business also.”

Some residents said the issue is due to politics. “It has never been a problem in our area. These days there are new things every day since BJP came into power,” Narayan said.

Priests say that the rule must be uniformly implemented.

“All religious institutions should follow it then. Mosques in this area play azaan five times a day on loudspeaker,” Shivaskanda said.