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Monday, June 5, 2023

Loudspeaker ban continues for this ancient Shiv temple in UP

This is the story of a village in Bharat’s hinterland, with a 400 year old Shiv temple, where the Hindu minority is being pushed towards a second exodus in 100 years.

As per local media reports, the dispute of installing a loudspeaker in the ancient Shiva temple is growing day by day in the village of Jogi Rampuri. This temple encompasses a glorious history of about four hundred years – it is made of made up of lakhori bricks and has murtis of Kali maa and Maa Vaishnavi, which testify to its antiquity. Devotees continue to worship in the temple despite the loudspeaker controversy.

The Shiva temple of Jogi Rampuri comes under the village Panchayat of Ahmadpur Sadaat, Najibabad tehsil, Bijnore district in Western UP. It also has murtis of Hanuman ji, Ganesh ji and Nandi etc. apart from the Shivalinga. In addition to that, the temple has one hundred and fifty years old murtis of Maa Kali and Maa Vaishnavi.

Local media report on temple loudspeaker controversy in Najibabad

The 77-year-old priest of the temple, Pandit Sitaram Giri explains that his third generation is worshipping in the temple. If we are to take the word of the President of Shiva Mandir Committee, Dr. Dayaram Saini, this temple dates back to the era of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Going by what elders say, after Aurangzeb came into power, he ordered the arrest of his father’s army commander Sayyad Raju who then took shelter in this village, located at the foot of the Shivaliks.

Exodus of the majority community began 100 years ago

The total population of the village Panchayat Ahmadpur Sadaat is around six thousand, which includes the Sunnis, Shias, and Hindus. Till recently, there were around 225 Sunni families, 10-15 Shia families and 130 Hindu families here. At present, the number of Hindu families is quite low. Pujari Sitaram Giri said that even a hundred years ago, there was a controversy regarding worship in the temple. At that time, the Hindu Brahmin and Vaishya communities of the village had fled to nearby Najibabad.

BSP regime owes responsibility for Loudspeaker controversy

The present priest of the temple, Rajiv Giri, said that since independence, the devotees have been consistently worshiping in the temple through loudspeakers. But in 2007, during the BSP rule of Mayawati, taking one-sided action on the complaint of a few people, the then SO (Station Officer) Abdul Salam of Raipur Sadat Police Station got the loudspeaker removed from the temple. At that time, even though some Ministers and MLAs of BSP had lobbied to get the loudspeaker re-installed, no solution could be reached.

This year, Hindus installed the loudspeaker in the temple to celebrate Ram Navami, which the Police and administrative officials forcefully removed. Currently, in spite of many rounds of talks no solution has been reached.

Shia community maintains distance from the Shiv Temple dispute

Located at the northern end of the village, is the famous Dargah-i-Aaliya Najfe Hind of the Shia community. Millions of people from all over the world come for the ziyarat held here. The Shia community has maintained a safe distance from the dispute over the installation of the loudspeaker in the temple. Jia Abbas Naqvi, the media incharge of the Dargah says that the people of every community are respected for them; this dispute has nothing to do with the Shia community.

Is this the syncretic culture left-liberals talk about?

Mosque loudspeakers blaring the azaan (Muslim call to prayer) 5 times a day are a common occurrence across Bharat, even in areas where Muslims have a negligible or no presence. Yet, we have seen innumerable instances in UP, Delhi etc of Muslims objecting to temple loudspeakers and aarti. For eg. HinduPost had covered this independent documentary Truth of Sunder Nagri – Are Hindu’s at risk?’ last year which showed how Hindus are being gradually pushed out of  Sundar Nagri locality in East Delhi. These were some salient points raised in the documentary –

  • Out of 18-20 temples in the area, only 5 temples can do aarti without any restriction. The rest of the temples have been gradually forced to restrict the aarti or end it altogether. The tactics followed are  – an initial ‘request’ is made to not use loudspeaker during the aarti as it conflicts with azaan, the next ‘request’ extract more concessions, and so on. In the end, the mandir pujari, being a solitary figure, gives in to all the demands to ‘avoid trouble’.
  • Rapidly changing demography of Sundar Nagri, a locality established in the late 1970s – from 90% at the beginning, Hindus have fallen to just 40% today.
  • A deteriorating mahaul (social environment) has caused many Hindus to flee. Gangs of young Muslims indulge in hooliganism, sexually harass Hindu girls….finally, Hindu families who have the financial means are moving out of this area.

There can be no denial that such incidents are increasing at places where Muslim population is substantial. On the contrary, paid media reports are propagating the exact opposite by whipping up a narrative of ‘Hindu Intolerance’. Hindus have hosted all other communities in Bharat with utmost grace over centuries. Now that the Muslim population is increasing at an unprecedented rate in certain pockets, it is striking imbalance and creating an atmosphere of dread within Hindus living there.

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