Pakistan slams ‘Azaan se Azaadi’ drive in India by Extremist Hindus

Pakistan on Tuesday condemned the playing of Hindu devotional songs on loudspeakers as a counter to the Muslims’ azaan (call to prayer) at various mosques in the Indian state of Karnataka.

Hanuman Chalisa, Suprabhata, Omkara and other devotional tunes at temples drowned the sound of the 5am azaan at mosques in various parts of Karnataka under a campaign that right-wing Hindu groups, chiefly the Sri Rama Sene, launched on Monday.

This happened in temples in Bengaluru, Hubballi, Belagavi, Mysuru, Chikkamagaluru, Yadgir, Mandya and Kolar among other places.

“The disturbing incidents occurred only a day after Sri Ram Sena chief [Pramod Muthalik] made the despicable call for “drowning” the azaan through the provocative playing of Hanuman Chalisa and other Hindu religious hymns,” the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.

“It is condemnable that a reprehensible so-called ‘Azaan se Azaadi’ campaign has been launched by Hindu fanatic groups in Karnataka which lays bare the new level of religious radicalism in the BJP-ruled India,” it further read.

Pakistan called on the international community to take note of the aggravating situation of Islamophobia in India. It also urged the world to play its due role in ensuring the religious freedom and safety of the beleaguered Muslim community residing in India.

It was also noted with deep regret that loudspeakers were being removed from mosques across various states in India under the pretext of ensuring ‘communal harmony’.

The spokesperson further said that the ‘othering’ of Muslims in India and exclusionary policies aimed at denying their fundamental right to profess and practice their religion, only expose the deep-seated anti-Islamic prejudices in the Indian state and society.

“Pakistan calls upon the Indian government to transparently investigate the incidents of widespread violence against minorities, particularly Muslims, and their places of worship and take measures to stop such incidents from recurring in the future. The government of India must ensure the safety, security and well-being of [religious] minorities.”

The Sri Ram Sena chief had said that the devotional songs would be played at over 1,000 temples across Karnataka at 5 am starting from Monday. On Monday, Muthalik and a few other Ram Sene members gathered at the Hanuman temple in Mysuru to play the devotional songs. Condemning this, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said in order to “control any activity that causes noise pollution, strict action against those violating the Supreme Court’s orders will be taken.”

The Indian Supreme Court had in 2005 banned the use of loudspeakers between 10 pm and 6 am except for emergencies, citing noise pollution.

In March 2021, the Karnataka Waqf Board had issued a circular to mosques in the state to only use loudspeakers between 6am and 10pm, and to keep the decibel levels low.

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