‘Already exhausted with religious places’: Kerala HC denies permission for new masjid

News Network
August 26, 2022

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Kochi, Aug 26: The Kerala High Court on Friday denied permission to construct a mosque in a locality that has many mosques, observing that the state already has a large number of religious structures and their ratio to the population is very high.

Justice PV Kunhikrishnan opined that Kerala, that is termed as 'God's own country', is crammed full of religious places.

"Because of the peculiar geographical situation of Kerala, it is known as 'God's own country'. But we are exhausted with religious places and prayer halls and we are not in a position to allow any new religious places and prayer halls except in the rarest of rare cases," he said.

The court observed that even though mosques are important to the Muslim community, it is not necessary, as per the Holy Quran, that there be a mosque in every nook and cranny.

"The verses of the Holy Quran clearly highlight the importance of he mosque to the Muslim community. But it is not stated in the above verses of the Holy Quran that a mosque is necessary in every nook and corner.... It is not stated in the 'Hadis' or in the Holy Quran that mosque is to be situated adjacent to the house of every Muslim community member. Distance is not the criteria, but reaching the mosque is important," it said.

The court also referred to a study on religious structures, based on the 2011 Census, which it termed as "alarming" as it said that Kerala has 10 times the number of religious structures as villages and 3.5 times the number of hospitals.

"Kerala is exhausted with religious institutions and prayer halls... If every devotee ... Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Parsi, etc. starts to construct religious places and prayer halls near their residence, the state will face serious consequence including communal disharmony. In this case, the intelligence report and the police report says that if the present conversion of the commercial building to a religious prayer hall is allowed, there is chance for communal disharmony. It is a sensitive issue," it noted.

In the instant case, since 36 mosques were existing within the vicinity in question, the court held that there was no need of another mosque in that vicinity because the adherents of Islam can go to other nearby mosques, especially considering the fact that most citizens have access to some kind of vehicle or public transportation.

"It is true that Article 26(a) of the Constitution of India states that subject to the public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes. That does not mean that they can construct religious places in every nook and corner of the country. Kerala is a very small state," it said.

Justice Kunhikrishnan also referred to a movie song by acclaimed poet, late Vayalar Ramavarma which speaks of how man created religions, religion created God, and together they divided the world and humanity.

The verdict was given on a petition seeking to change a commercial building to a Muslim place of worship so as to enable Muslims in the vicinity to access a mosque to offer prayers.

The District Collector considered the request and denied it, based on reports of the district police chief who noted that there are about 36 mosques situated within 5 kilometre radius from the existing commercial building of the petitioner.

This prompted the petitioner to approach the High Court.

The court went through the 'The Manual of guidelines to prevent and control communal disturbance and to promote communal harmony' issued by the state, via a Government Order, and found that even for a change of occupancy, the permission from district authorities is necessary.

In the present case, the court found no reason to interfere with the decision of the state authorities and dismissed the petition.

It then asked to issue the following directions to the state government and police authorities, including, that the Kerala Chief Secretary and the state police chief shall issue necessary orders/circulars directing all the officers concerned to see that there is no illegal functioning of any religious places and prayer halls without obtaining permission from the competent authorities as per the Manual of Guidelines.

If any such religious place or prayer hall is functioning without necessary permission, they should take necessary steps to close down the same forthwith, it said.

Besides, the court said that it should be clearly mentioned that the distance to the nearest similar religious place/prayer hall is one of the criteria while considering the application for religious places and prayer halls and also directed the Chief Secretary to issue a separate circular/order prohibiting change of category of a building to a religious place/prayer hall, except in the rarest of rare case, and that also only after getting report from the police and intelligence, ascertaining the ground realities of that particular place.

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News Network
October 3,2022

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Mysuru, Oct 3: Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi resumed at Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Circle in Mysuru early Monday and received a rousing response, as he left for Pandavapura via Manipal Hospital Circle. Instead of the scheduled break at Manipal Hospital Circle, the yatra proceeded towards Naganahalli Gate on Bengaluru Road, an extra 3.5 km away.

Rahul passed through Chamarajendra Circle in front of the North Gate of Mysuru Palace, Ashoka Road, Myrusu Central Prisons, Fountain Circle, Tipu Sultan Circle, Millennium Circle, St Philomena’s College, Bannimantapa, JSS Medical College, Bengaluru Road, Manipal Hospital Circle on Outer Ring Road, KR Mill, Siddalingapura and Naganahalli Gate. In some stretches, people gathered on both sides, while in others, crowds were not allowed. It took over one hour and 15 minutes for the 10 km leg of the yatra from Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Circle to Naganahalli Gate.

The yatra resumed after a break at Naganahalli Gate at 9.05 am and proceeded towards Srirangapatna in Mandya district. A barefoot woman held hands with Rahul Gandhi and walked along with him for a while near Kalasthavadi on the border of Mandya district.

People waited with placards on the median and also on footpaths of the route, while folk art troupes performed at some places. Congress and national flags were waved all along. People gathered and also those who took part in the yatra shouted slogans such as ‘Bharat Jodo’. Near St Philomena’s College, a group of youths, wearing T-shirts and holding placards with ‘We are walking for jobs’ slogans, joined the yatra, met Rahul Gandhi and shared a few words.

It has to be recalled that Rahul Gandhi entered Karnataka via Gundlupet town, in Chamarajanagar district, from Gudlur in Tamil Nadu, on September 30. He entered Mysuru district on October 1 via Kalale Gate in Nanjangud taluk. He reached Kalale Gate from Tondavadi Gate in Gundlupet taluk, where he had halted. He reached Thandavapura by Saturday evening, via Chikkaiahana Chatra.

Rahul participated in numerous events at Khadi village Badanavalu to mark Gandhi Jayanthi on October 2 and resumed his yatra at Kaalibeeramma temple at Kadkola Industrial Area junction. He walked up to APMC Yard in Bandipalya and halted in a camp on Doddakere Maidan in Mysuru. His speech in the rain near Kaalibeeramma temple received applause. People took shelter under chairs by holding them above their heads, eager to listen to his speech.

The leader was accompanied by national leaders like Randeep Singh Surjewala and K C Venugopal and state leaders like D K Shivakumar, Siddaramaiah, B K Hariprasad and R Dhruvanarayan. Other leaders like Saleem Ahmed, Krishna Bhyregowda, Vasu, Tanveer Sait, M K Somashekar, Yathindra Siddaramaiah and Priyank Kharge were in the padyayatra on Monday.

He will reach Pandavapura by Monday evening, after a break at Srirangapatna. The yatra will break for a couple of days in the wake of the Dasara festival, especially for the Jamboo Savari. 

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News Network
September 23,2022

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New Delhi, Sept 23: India has spent nearly $100 billion in the past year to defend the rupee in a battle that has so far failed to staunch the local currency’s drop to a record low against the dollar on Friday.

Data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) showed that the country’s forex reserves have fallen to $545.7 billion as of September 16, from $550.8 billion a week ago, and a far cry from the $642.45 billion seen exactly a year ago. The reading is the lowest since October 2, 2020. 

To be sure, some of the drop is also due to revaluation changes, given the dollar’s move upwards. 

“The fall in reserves is a combination of factors such as intervention, balance of payments deficit, and the revaluation of reserves held in other currencies vis-a-vis the US dollar,” said Aditi Nayar, chief economist at ICRA in New Delhi. 

India’s currency fell to a record low 81 a dollar and has lost over 8 per cent so far this year against the greenback. The dollar has surged to a two-decade high against major currencies after the Federal Reserve signaled a longer-than-expected tightening cycle. 

The data comes as RBI has mounted a strong defense in the last few weeks to soothe market fears over further currency losses. The decline in the rupee is also raising worries with impact seen on inflation, external deficits and company profits. 

“You buy an umbrella to use it when it rains,” RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said earlier in July, indicating that the central bank had been using foreign exchange reserves to deal with currency volatility.

While India’s forex buffer should be sufficient to shield the economy against any major external shock, we expect the RBI to become more prudent in the latter part of the current fiscal year, Kotak Mahindra Bank economists lead by Upasna Bhardwaj wrote in a note. 

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News Network
September 28,2022

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Ahmedabad, Sept 28: Bajrang Dal workers late Tuesday night thrashed several youths from a particular religion reportedly for trying to enter a 'garba' venue in Ahmedabad. Videos being circulated on social media show some youths being questioned about their religious identities and beaten up by the saffron brigade. 

One of the videos shows a person being stripped, punched, and kicked by half-a-dozen men in saffron scarves amidst the busy traffic. The person identifies himself as Salman Shaikh, and while pleading that he be allowed to go, says that he won't come back. The police said that they were verifying the authenticity of videos.

"We are aware of the videos and in the process of verifying those. As of now, there is no case filed since no one has come forward to lodge a complaint," B U Jadeja, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone 7, Ahmedabad said. 

According to Bajrang Dal, the incident happened at R K Party Plot at Sindhu Bhavan Road in Ahmedabad on Tuesday night while they were "checking" identities of revellers in order to keep non-Hindus away from 'garba' venues. The nine-day Navratri festival began on Monday and like for the past several years, Bajrang Dal activists have been warning non-Hindus to stay away from 'garba' venues. 

Confirming the incident, president of north Gujarat, Bajrang Dal, said, "Our workers spotted these people from R K Party Plot on Sindhu Bhavan Road. While applying 'tilak' to everyone entering the 'garba' venue, we spotted four Muslims. I heard that there were some fights."

The saffron brigade claims that non-Hindus going to 'garba' is nothing but part of "love jihad". The organisation has submitted memorandums to district authorities in various parts of Gujarat for not allowing non-Hindus into 'garba' venues.

R K Party Plot owner Nirav Patel said that he was not aware of the incident as he had only rented his plot to an event management firm -- Sky Events. When contacted, Vedik Shah, who runs Sky Events, said that he did come to know about some fights last night but "it didn't occur at his event".

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