It is made clear that from the date of this order if anybody is found violating the restrictions imposed on microphone/loud-speaker, the Police Authorities are hereby directed to immediately seize and confiscate the microphone from whatever place it would be found and report it to the Court for taking drastic action against the violators who are violating wilfully and deliberately. The Officer-in-Charge of all Police Stations in Slate of West Bengal arc directed to keep a watch on all the Mosques in the Stale of West Bengal to find out whether any of the Mosques are using Microphones in the early hours before 7 a.m. and that they are maintaining the decibel limits available to them on the basis of the situation of the Mosques and if any infraction is made they should take steps as directed in this order”. —Calcutta High Court, Moulana Mufti Syed Md. Noorur , … vs State Of West Bengal And Ors. on March 4 , 1998
In the age of social media, any issue gets multiplied with contradictory sounds. Though we get to hear many voices, we can hardly make sense of it. The discussion on loudspeakers at religious places and a few changes in the NCERT textbooks are similar issues. The conventional ‘sickular’ (perverted with pseudo-secularism) mindset is consistently on the radar of social media enthusiasts. At the same time, the loudmouths among the self-proclaimed custodians of ‘secularism’ continue to play the same old rant. Instead of discussing both these issues through the communal prism of fraudulent secularism, we need a reasonable discussion on topics such as sound pollution and a course correction in textbooks.
Though the discussion on loudspeakers at religious places started with a call from Maharashtra by a politician trying to reinvent his relevance, the real action on the ground by the Uttar Pradesh Government had made it a talking point. The debate over loudspeakers at religious places is not new. In a historic judgement, Calcutta High Court dismissed the petition of Imams from Kolkata challenging the judgement dated April 1, 1996, imposing certain restrictions and conditions on the use of microphones in the State of West Bengal. The court clearly stated that “the Azan is undoubtedly an essential and integral part of Islam, the use of microphone and loudspeakers are not an essential and integral part thereof”. Since then, there have been at least sixteen such judgements by various courts, including the apex court, to impose such restrictions, not just on mosques but also on all religious places. Accordingly, the Yogi Adityanath Government has shown the will and intent to act as per the law and removed thousands of such loudspeakers. In some instances, restrictions are imposed on the sound level.
In most cases, ordinary people from Hindu and Muslim religions cooperate with the administration. This model can provide a template for the nationwide action on restricting artificial sound pollution as per the Environmental (Protection) Rules, 1986. We should explore the possibility of multiplying best practices across the States instead of spreading misinformation.
The same is true about the NCERT books. As per the guidelines of the National Education Policy, the burden on students is being reduced. Mughals have been given disproportionate space in the History textbooks, while in the case of Political Science biased models and concepts are incorporated. Besides these contentious areas, even in Geography and Science textbooks, certain portions are deleted, but no one is bothered about them. The school textbooks should be revised as per the changing needs after every ten years. In the case of Social Sciences, we certainly need a decolonised perspective of ourselves. Hence, our core concern should be nationalisation of the content, not a manufactured cauldron of secularism and communalism.
Amidst fake Azans for secularism, the actual quest for the rule of law and the national character of education are being silenced. We should restrict hypocritical sounds to acceptable decibel levels to listen to sensible voices.