A two-week-old letter by the Vice-Chancellor of the prestigious Allahabad University to the Prayagraj district magistrate, complaining about "noise" from a mosque in the locality she resides in, has landed her in controversy with a prominent Muslim cleric asking for "mutual respect of religious sentiments".
The letter, titled "Noise Pollution in the Civil Lines, Prayagraj" was written by Vice-Chancellor Sangita Shrivastava on March 3 to Bhanu Chandra Goswami , the topmost government official in the district.
It said the daily 5.30 am call to prayers, azaan, from the nearby mosque using a mic disturbs her sleep and that she is unable to sleep after that.
"The sleep so disturbed does not resume even after trying very hard. This also results in a headache, throughout the day, causing losses in working hours," the letter read.
"An old adage says 'your freedom ends where my nose begins' this holds true here. I am not against any religion, caste or creed. They may perform the Azaan without the mike so that others are not disturbed. Even before Eid, they announce Sehri on the mike at 4.00 am. This practice also creates a disturbance to other people. The constitution of India envisages a secular and peaceful co-existence of all communities, which needs to be practiced in letter and spirit," the Vice-Chancellor wrote.
A top police official in Prayagraj confirmed they have received the letter.
"A letter from the Vice-Chancellor has come to my cognizance, where she has written to the district magistrate about a call for 'Aazaan' that is over a regulated decibel unit and it disturbs her. There are Supreme Court guidelines in place that say noise pollution is not permissible between 10 pm to 6 am and no announcements are permitted using public address systems and if this is happening there should be specific permission else action will be taken. We are studying the letter and will take action to uphold the orders of the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court," Kavindra Pratap Singh , the Deputy Inspector General of Police in Prayagraj told the media.
In her letter, a copy of which was sent to the police, Sangita Shrivastava had cited the court order.
Her letter has attracted criticism from a prominent Lucknow-based Muslim cleric.
"We condemn the VC's letter in strong terms. She should be aware that our country is known for Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (Ganga-Yamuna culture) and everyone respects each other's religion and that is why 'azaan' from mosques and sounds of 'bhajan kirtan' from temples have not caused disturbance to anyone's sleep. Mosques are already implementing the orders of the honorable High Court in this regard and so I would appeal that everyone should respect the sentiments of each other's religion," Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, a member of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board said in a video statement.
A representative of the mosque in question told journalists earlier today that the volume of the loudspeakers being used had already been lowered.
"We have permissions for two loudspeakers. A cop had come a few days ago saying people are complaining about high volume and we immediately got the volume lowered. In the morning, there is tranquility and so perhaps sounds seem loud. If in future anyone has an issue, we will reduce the levels to near zero," Mohd Karim said in a statement to the media.