How did two Delhi Policemen decide to ‘ban’ azaan on their own?

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Disciplinary Action is being taken against the erring Police Officials. Appeal to observe the holy month of Ramzan as per the advisory given below to stay safe and follow lockdown in your and public interest: Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal

“Azaan ke liye bhi mana kar diya hai LG sahab ne. LG sahab ke order hain (azaan is also banned, these are the orders from the Lieutenant Governor )” two uniformed Delhi Police officials, took it upon themselves to tell the local muezzin at a mosque in Delhi’s Prem Nagar area, that azaan, or the Muslim call to prayers recited by a muezzin, was banned by the state’s Lt Governor a day before the month of Ramzaan began. This of course is not true. There is no ban on the call to prayers under the Covid19 lockdown. All religious gatherings, and congregational prayers have been banned and mosques, churches, temples, gurdwaras have already suspended them. The faithfull have been asked to pray at home.

However, the two Delhi Policemen’s decision to make additions to the list of banned activities has done the damage. The short video clip has since gone viral, where the cops are seen giving stern instructions to the Muezzin  not to give the call to prayer. Two women can be heard reasoning with the cops that Ramzaan was starting soon and azaan was essential to let people know when to break their fast. They told the cops that no one was going to the masjids to pray and only the muezzin would give the call. “This is wrong, this is ramzan, the rozas (fasts) will be observed, there is no ban on Azaan, we see the news too,” reasoned the women.  “Go and fight with LG. The LG has said no,” the policeman replied. “What is the problem? Is corona increasing with the azaan,” asked an exasperated woman. 

“LG Sahab has said not one person will read the azaan,” the cop continues to chant his line ad nauseum. Not to be intimidated, the women continue to school him. The clip soon found its way to social media where users such as civil rights activist Navaid Hamid, president All India  Muslim Majlis e Mushawaratm secretary S. Asian CouncilForMinorities  tagged the authorities and tweeted “DelhiPolice (PS PremNagar) claims tht @LtGovDelhi has ordered to ban Azaan. Reports coming frm areas where Muslims r in minority tht policemen hav instructed Imam/Muezzin not to give Azan in Mosques. Muslims wld not accept any illegal directive. #Ramadan @ArvindKejriwal @CPDelhi”

Senior journalist Saba Naqvi too shared the video, flagging the sensitive issue,  “

Is azaan during #Ramzaan now not allowed in Delhi? These cops say it’s order of LG. Hear them. Video from riot affected mustafabad where many lost lives, home and shops.”

While the conversation between the cops and the Muslim citizens, heard in the video is not a shouting match, the stress it has caused, and the dangerous potential it has to fan communal flames is obvious. “This is yet another attempt to intimidate,” said a Muslim lawyer, “azaan is a call to prayer. This is a holy month for Muslims across the world. We will all pray within our homes,”.  “Why are they trying to provoke us?” asked a student, “they keep finding one thing or the other to attack us with.”

“There is a greater design behind this,” added a Muslim activist, “it can have dangerous consequences, even riots  if not shut down right now.”

A local resident says the cops action was to create a disturbance where there was none. “How is azaan a problem? Ramzaan is holy to us and comes only once a year. They cannot stop a call to prayer. It is a simple tradition.”

Hours later Anil Baijal,  Lieutenant Governor of Delhi: posted this on Twitter: “Observe Ramazan while following the lockdown guidelines”

 With not even a word to calm frayed nerves and set the record straight that he had not given any instructions to the policemen to stop muezzins from reciting the  azaan to mark the end of each roza. 

Delhi Minorities Commission wrote to Anil Baijil, Lt. Governor Delhi and Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi, about prohibition of azaan in NCT mosques.  DMC Chairman Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan raised the issue of banning azaan over loudspeakers in mosques in various parts  of Delhi. 

“The issue of azaan from mosques is very pressing due to the beginning of the month of Ramzan when Muslims fast and break their fast on hearing the azaan at sunset time. Ramzan is starting in Delhi tomorrow, April 25. The Commission has requested that azaan should not be banned from mosques while mosques will continue to meticulously follow the Covid19-restrictions on permitted numbers of people for any gathering and social distancing,” said Dr Khan. 

No congregational prayers are being held in Delhi mosques since the lockdown but azaan, recited by a single muezzin has continued. The Commission sent notices to the DCPs of Dwarka and South districts to provide it a copy of any circular banning the azaan. “If it does not exist, allow azaan in mosques in their areas” stated Dr Khan.

On his part, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tried to add a touch of diplomacy by saying there was no ban on azaan, but during the lockdown there was a ban on going to the mosques for namaaz and the complete ban extended on congregational prayers of any other religion as well: “अजान के लिए कोई पाबंदी नहीं है. लॉकडाउन में मस्जिदों में नमाज़ के लिए इकट्ठा होने या किसी अन्य धार्मिक स्थल पर पूजा आदि के लिए लोगों के इकट्ठा होने पर पूरी तरह पाबंदी है.

On April 25, the Delhi Police tweeted  that azaan could be carried out as directed by the  National Green Tribunal (NGT)

According to the newsportal  The Quint  Delhi Police PRO, Anil Mittal, has said the two cops seen in the video are being identified, “ and, an official DCP-level inquiry has been launched into the matter. With the month Ramzan starting on 25 April, people must offer Namaz and have Sehri at home.”

An activist said the cops may now say they were confused between ‘azaan’, and ‘namaz’. Perhaps the two policemen should have just stopped talking for a moment and listened to what the women were trying to tell them in the first place. After all, in the midst of the Covid19 lockdown Delhi Police does want to be known as “Dill Ki Police” or is that a pun (un)intended? 



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