Eshwarappa justifies remarks over azaan
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Karnataka minister KS Eshwarappa on Monday justified his controversial remarks against the use of loudspeakers by the Muslim community for azaan, or a prayer call, saying he was expressing the sentiments of the common public.
“Exams are going on. Students who are writing the exams are disturbed when they listen to this (azaan),” Eshwarappa told reporters in Mangaluru, adding he did not intend to condemn any religion. “…But someone has to voice the sentiments of the general public. This is not condemning a religion.”
The former minister was responding to queries about his controversial remarks made during a BJP rally at Kavoor in Mangaluru on Sunday. He was addressing a Vijay Sankalp Yatra in the poll-bound state when azaan went out from a nearby mosque. “Wherever I go, this (azaan) gives me a headache. The Supreme Court’s judgment is due, if not today, this call for azaan will come to an end,” he said on Sunday.
Eshwarappa even questioned if “Allah will listen to prayers only if loudspeakers are used during azaan”. He added: “In temples, girls and women offer prayers and bhajans. We are religious, but we don’t use loudspeakers.”
The senior BJP leader’s remarks are likely to stoke again the azaan debate in Karnataka, where assembly elections are due in the next few months.
Azaan has remained a contentious issue in the southern state, where Hindu groups have demanded restrictions on the use of loudspeakers in mosques, failing which, they had threatened to use loudspeakers in temples.
The issue even reached the Karnataka high court last year, when it refused to issue any directions to mosques while hearing a petition that claimed the contents of azaan hurt the sentiments of those from other faiths. The court even rejected the contention that the contents of azaan violated the fundamental rights guaranteed to the people of other faiths.
In July 2005, the Supreme Court banned the use of loudspeakers between 10 pm and 6 am except in cases of public emergencies, citing the health impacts of noise pollution. Months later in October 2005, the apex court said loudspeakers could be permitted to be used till midnight on festive occasions for 15 days a year.
Eshwarappa is no stranger to controversies. Earlier, he sparked a row when he referred to 18th-century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan as a “Muslim gunda” (or Muslim goon).
Last year, Eshwarappa was forced to resign as the rural development minister over the suspected suicide of a civil contractor, who had accused the senior BJP leader of harassment for commissions. Santosh Patil (40), a contractor involved in government projects, was found dead in a hotel in Udupi on April 12. However, the local police gave the leader a clean chit in the case.
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