Furthering hate against the Muslim community, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Mohit Kamboj in Maharashtra, on Tuesday, 5 April, has offered to bankroll loudspeakers to play the Hanuman Chalisa to counter Azaan, as part of a campaign seeking to ban loudspeakers from mosques.
Kamboj, a billionaire bullion trader and among the richest BJP leaders, said in a tweet:
"Anyone who needs a loudspeaker to install it in a temple can ask us for free! All Hindus should have one voice! Jai Shri Ram! Har Har Mahadev!"
This comes after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Raj Thackeray urged the Maharashtra government on Saturday, 2 April, to remove loudspeakers from mosques, adding that if it was not done, he would play the Hanuman Chalisa on speakers.
A day later, MNS leader Mahendra Bhanushali was briefly taken into custody by the Mumbai police for playing the Hanuman Chalisa on a loudspeaker without the required permission.
The campaign comes right before the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections, which could solidify the MNS and BJP's Hindutva stance in contrast to Shiv Sena's recently softened views.
Raj Thackeray, who had broken away from Sena in 2005 after a rift with now Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, has maintained the hardline position against loudspeakers used in mosques.
However, Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil has criticised such provocations, emphasising that such statements were aimed at dividing society.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut also hit out at the BJP and MNS on Sunday, 3 April, and said, "Raj Thackeray was talking about taking down the loudspeakers installed in mosques yesterday. First, see in which all BJP ruled states Azaan has been stopped, loudspeakers removed from mosques... This is Maharashtra, where law of the land is followed," news agency ANI reported.
Sri Rama Sene in Karnataka Threatens To Play Bhajans To Counter Azaan
Meanwhile, in Karnataka, after the campaign against 'halal' meat, Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik warned the government to remove mics from mosques.
Muthalik threatened the government, saying that if they fail to act, Hindutva organisations would start playing bhajans at temples every day at 5 am to "counter" the azaan, The Hindu reported.
Reacting to this, City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant had said that all places of worship were required to strictly follow the directions of the high court on noise pollution under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules enacted in 2000.
However, attacking Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy accused him of remaining silent on these issues.
"Muslims have been using loudspeakers for azaan. Why are Hindutva organisations getting disturbed suddenly now," he asked. "The Chief Minister is not responding to anything. He has remained silent as if nothing has happened."
On Tuesday, Bommai spoke on the demand for a ban on loudspeakers in mosques, and said, "This is high court's order. It's not forced. Everything has to be done by talking and explaining to people. It is not only for azaan, it is for all loudspeakers. So, we will take a call."
'Azaan Disturbs Students, Patients, and Elderly': KS Eshwarappa
Meanwhile, Karnataka BJP leader and Panchayat Raj Minister KS Eshwarappa said that Azaan disturbed students, patients, and the elderly.
"I have been hearing that Azaan through loudspeakers disturbs students. The community has for long followed the tradition of calling for prayers using loudspeakers, and this is an issue even for their own children's studies," Eshwarappa said in Karwar.
"This is my view on banning loudspeakers. This isn't a competition between Muslims calling for prayers through loudspeakers and Hindus chanting Hanuman Chalisa. And because of the Azaan, it is an issue for students, patients, and the elderly," he added.
Reacting to his statement, Congress leader Priyank Kharge said, "Let all BJP and Bajrang Dal workers stop using petrol and diesel since it's imported from Islamic countries. Show your real Hindutva here. There are Pollution Control Board norms and Supreme Court orders on loudspeakers, let them implement them. It talks about what to do with temples, mosques, and churches."
(With inputs from ANI, NDTV, and The Hindu.)