Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India
NEW DELHI – People in Uttar Pradesh are in utter confusion over a note doing the rounds on social media that police had banned azan, Muslim call for prayer, in the mosques of several districts of the state.
In the wake of the nationwide ban on religious gatherings Muslim are already advised to pray at home. The note, apparently issued by Mau Darwaja police station in Farrukabad, states that reciting azan is banned during coronavirus lockdown.
A report published in a Hindi newspaper about the ban on azan which is being shared on the social media added to the confusion.
The note came days after a viral video surfaced showing cops in a Delhi neighbourhood telling Muslim residents that an order had been issued to ban the azan during Ramazan. After the intervention of the Minority Commission, the Delhi government denied issuing any such order and assured that azan would continue as per NGT rules.
The social media users, while denouncing the alleged ban, sought clarification as to whether the authorities have issued any order banning the azan in the state.
A Muslim student activist, Sherjeel Usmani, wrote in his Twitter account that he had received reports of police stopping the azan at several places in the state. The names he mentioned in his tweet included Kannauj, Farrukhabad, Ghazipur and Etawah district in Uttar Pradesh. While tagging the official handle of the state police he asked the authorities to clarify the reports.
News coming from Kannauj, Farrukhabad, Ghazipur and Etawah district in Uttar Pradesh that police is stopping Azaan from Masjīds. @Uppolice must clarify and settle the matter immediately.
Please tag the police and ask them to clarify. Tell them #AzaanBandNahiHogi
— Sharjeel Usmani (@SharjeelUsmani) April 25, 2020
Usmani’s tweet started a campaign on the social media. Many people joined him in asking the authorities to revoke the alleged order.
Student activist from Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU) Afreen Fatima accused the state of curbing the religious freedom of Muslims. She tweeted: “Uttar Pradesh Police under Yogi Adityanath is using coronavirus pandemic to curb religious freedom of Muslims. Police is forcefully banning Azaan in several districts. Please tag UP Police and ask them to clarify. Tell them that Azaan band nahi hogi.”
Navaid Hamid, president of Majlis Mushawarat wrote to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath appealing him to direct all administration in the districts to allow adhan in mosques during the Ramazan.
Dear CM @myogiadityanath ji!
It's strange when Muslims across India includig UP are strictly following instructions to offer namaz at homes due to #Coronavilockdown, it is totally provocative & illegal to ban Azan from Masjids which plays important part in Ramzan schedule. 1/n pic.twitter.com/0mxgMo9lIN
— Navaid Hamid نوید حامد (@navaidhamid) April 25, 2020
Qazi Faraz Ahmad, a journalist who covers the state for a New Delhi-based news outlet, took to Twitter to ask the state police to clarify and share details if there was any order banning the azan.
Dear @lkopolice are their any orders which doesn't allow Azaan from mosques? If yes then kindly share the details and if not then please clarify why are policemen in some areas forcing to stop Azaan. @dgpup @Uppolice
— Qazi Faraz Ahmad (@qazifarazahmad) April 25, 2020
The police in the state has kept mum over the issue which is adding to the anxieties of Muslim residents amidst a looming threat of communal violence. The response to coronavirus in India has been laced with Islamophobia partly due to vilification of Tablighi Jamaat by a large section of the media. There has been a surge in the incidents of hate crime against ordinary Muslims at the hands of both police and rightwing mobs.
From the CAA, the ongoing arrests in Delhi, the ongoing vilification, resultant apartheid and now talk of banning the Azaan, there's concerted effort to craft the Muslim community as perpetual protestors .i.e bad citizens against the country; w/ help of the media. The 'other'.
— Sidrah (@SidrahDP) April 26, 2020
While many believe that the reports of banning the azan is a direct attack on Muslims, others said it could be part of a ploy to evoke a desirable response from Muslim community and present them as adversaries to the efforts needed to curb the coronavirus.