Saying it out loud: Hindutva outfit tries to polarise UP on loudspeaker issue

Saying it out loud: Hindutva outfit tries to polarise UP on loudspeaker issue

Saying it out loud: Hindutva outfit tries to polarise UP on loudspeaker issue

The controversy over Sonu Nigam's seemingly innocuous tweet is acquiring ridiculous proportions now.

So enthused is the Hindutva brigade with the momentum that the issue has created, that it is now preparing to launch a full-fledged movement around it.

The Hindu Jagran Manch, an outfit floated by senior BJP leader Vinay Katiyar, has announced it will launch a drive against loudspeakers used for prayers in mosques in Uttar Pradesh.

The manch has reportedly demanded that state government officials ensure removal of loudspeakers from mosques across the state. A memorandum with the demand is likely to be submitted to the chief minister soon.

An HJM representative explained that the organisation was “not against azaan, but against the use of loudspeakers on a regular basis”, which he identified as “noise pollution”. The only concession he was willing to give was to gurudwaras because, according to him, they use loudspeakers only during Sikh festivals.

Note how the HJM member conveniently ignores mentioning the daily use of loudspeakers atop Hindu temples, on Hindu festivals and during Hindu functions like jagratas, chaukis, and myriad others.

There are Hindu functions wherein loud chanting of mantras and bhajans goes on for days at a stretch, on loudspeakers. No thought is spared for individuals in the neighbourhood who might be uncomfortable with that sound because of a host of reasons. It is common to find students flustered every time the loudspeaker starts up at such a function.

Is vigilantism justified?

It's a given that the HJM will not take up the cudgels against these functions – because it is a Hindutva organisation.

Who will do it then? The state, of course, and that is the moot point. Misuse of loudspeakers is a law and order problem, just like loud music played at weddings and other social functions.

Just as the police can raid wedding venues and seize music equipment if they continue playing after 10pm, temples, mosques, gurudwaras, and even households playing bhajans loudly can be raided.

The law authorises police to take such action, but from where do vigilantes like those working for HJM get their authority?

There are specific rules in place that regulate the use of loudspeakers for any purpose, religious or social, and they are statutory in nature. The state and its agencies like police and pollution control boards are empowered to ensure the implementation of these statues, in Uttar Pradesh, as in other parts of the country.

Many have also moved the courts on the issue and courts have rightly intervened, asking the state to ensure a check. There is simple no need for random organisations to issue diktats and launch agitations for the purpose.

The issue is being raked up now only to serve political ends by creating a furore on emotional grounds. The HJM will agitate, some other organisation or individuals will oppose, and lumpens in the saffron brigade will get a chance to exclaim that “sick-ularists have been exposed”.

Nigam must also realise that he has given a handle to these elements to exploit. The entire nation has been sent into a tizzy for over four days now, over one man's 140-character statement. This is evidence enough of the fact that people in the public eye must be conscious of their statements and actions. It is the price of fame.

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