Ajmer excise dept won’t close liquor shop near mosque as no one has heard azaan

Citizens protest against a liquor shop near a girls school in Barmer in Rajasthan.(HT Photo)
Citizens protest against a liquor shop near a girls school in Barmer in Rajasthan.(HT Photo)
Updated on May 11, 2017 07:26 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Ajmer | ByHT Correspondent

The excise department in Rajasthan’s Ajmer city refused to act on a Muslim sect’s request to shift a liquor shop located in front of a mosque, saying the prayer house did not exist as no one has heard ‘azaan’ from the building.

The Dawoodi Bohra community, a Shia Muslim sect, said they had stopped the common practice of using loudspeakers for ‘azaan’, the muezzin’s call for prayers, many years ago to avoid disturbing other communities, besides eliminating noise pollution.

The incident came weeks after Bollywood playback singer Sonu Nigam sparked a nationwide debate after calling for a ban on loudspeakers for azaan as it disturbed his sleep.

“Locals said they have not seen any community performing namaaz at the spot in the last 50-60 years. Also no azaan has ever been heard being called from the spot,” Ajmer north excise inspector DS Singh said in a letter to the secretary of Bohra Community Association.

“The complaint seems baseless, imaginary, and based on political ill-will. If there is no azaan, there is no mosque,” it said. HT has a copy of the letter dated May 1.

The Bohra community has been demanding shifting the liquor shop, situated 50 yards from the mosque.

We never thought that our decision taken long time back, not to use loud speaker for azaan...would be used by government officials to denounce our mosque,” Mansoor Ali Bohra, a community leader, said on Wednesday. “It is disgusting.”

When contacted, district excise officer NL Rathi said the matter will be investigated.

“This is very imprudent on the part of excise inspector to send a letter citing illogical argument to denounce the claim that the building is not a mosque,’ he said.

“...If he (the officer) has made this report to benefit the liquor vendor, strict action will be initiated against the inspector,” he added.

The 5,000-strong Bohra community in Ajmer has only one mosque in the city, which houses the dargah of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chisti.

Community members said Bohras from neighbouring Nagaur, Tonk and Bhilwara also offer prayers at the Ajmer mosque on occasions such as Eid.

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