A photo of a mosque is viral on social media with captions falsely claiming that it has been constructed on a tract of land 'gifted' by the Congress government to the Muslim community in Nainital, Uttarakhand in the last 20-25 years.
BOOM found that the viral claim is false and the mosque shown in the picture - Jama masjid - was constructed by the British in 1882.
The viral picture of the mosque is accompanied with a long Hindi caption which translates to 'This mosque is located in devbhoomi Nainital. It did not exist around 20-25 years ago. Built like a fort, this mosque is located right in front of Naina devi. Everyday at 4 am the 16 loudspeakers installed on the mosque will routinely wake you up. Since the lake-city is surrounded by hills on all sides, the earsplitting noise from these 16 loudspeakers at 4 am is a bane for heart patients, BP patients and those admitted in the nearby hospitals. The important thing is that the mosque has not been built on commercial land. Hundreds of metres of prime land was gifted to the Muslim community by then Congress government to build the mosque. It's happening everywhere in India... the country has been filled with graves, mazars, peers, dargahs, mosques and madarsas'.
(Hindi: यह मस्जिद देवभूमि में स्थित नैनीताल में है... करीब 20-25 वर्ष पूर्व इस मस्जिद का कोई अस्तित्व नहीं था... यह किले-महलनुमा मस्जिद, विश्वप्रसिद्ध नैनीझील और सदियों पूर्व के नैना देवी के ठीक सामने स्थित है... सुबह साढ़े 4 बजे से इस मस्जिद में लगे 16 बड़े बड़े लाऊडस्पीकर आपको बगैर जगाए नहीं मानते... चूँकि यह सरोवर नगरी चारो तरफ से पर्वतों से घिरी हुई है तो प्रातः साढ़े 4 बजे इन 16 लाउडस्पीकरों की कर्णभेदी ध्वनि दिल के रोगियों, बी.पी के मरीजों और आसपास के अस्पतालों में भर्ती मरीजों के ऊपर कहर की तरह टूटती है... खास बात यह है कि यह मस्जिद खरीदी हुई ज़मीन पर नहीं है... तत्कालीन काँग्रेस सरकार ने सैकड़ों मीटर प्राईम लैंड (बेशकीमती ज़मीन) मुसलमानों को उपहार (अलॉट) में देकर... इस मस्जिद का निर्माण कराया है... भारत में हर जगह यही हाल है... पूरे भारत को कब्रों मजारों पीर दरगाह मस्जिद मदरसों से भर दिया गया है)
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BOOM did a keyword search with 'Nainital Jama Masjid' on Facebook and found the same photo on a Facebook page Jama Masjid Mosque Nainital.
The About section of the Facebook page says the mosque - Jama masjid - was originally built in 1882 during the British era for Muslim soldiers in the British army.
The caption with the Facebook post reads 'The Jama Masjid Nainital was originally built for Muslim soldiers in the British army. You can see the symmetrical emphasis associated with Islamic architecture, the lush decoration, and the minarets from which the call the prayer is sounded. Although far less grand than Delhi's Jama Masjid, this Nainital mosque fulfills its basic function as a gathering place for a Muslim community. Jama Masjid Nainital, was built in 1882 during the British Era for muslim around Nainital. Over the main entrance one can see Arabic inscriptions. The most notable feature is the mihrab where a niche shows the direction towards Mecca. Beautifully reconstructed in 2004-2005'.
BOOM also checked about Jama masjid Nainital on internet. We found several travel magazine reports and blogposts about the mosque which mention that it was constructed in the British era India in 1882. Read here.
An Instagram post on the verified handle of uttarakhand_tourismofficial also mentions that the mosque was built in 1882 by the Britishers.
We also found the image of the mosque on the website of Waqf Board of Uttarakhand. The caption with the picture reads 'Jama Masjid was built in 1882 during British Era for their Muslim soldiers, serving in the military camps around Nainital. The stately building of Jama Masjid elucidating its beauty is a remarkable piece of architecture. This quintessential Islamic building is wearing a pristine white color with a tinge of black'.
BOOM also reached out to the Waqf Board office, Uttarakhand for more details on the mosque. The Public Information Officer at the board told BOOM that the Jama Masjid in Nainital is very old. "There is only one Jama Masjid in Nainital and its construction began in 1880. It's quite old," the official told BOOM.
16 Loudspeakers on the Parapet of Jama Masjid?
BOOM contacted Mallital police station in Nainital to get more information on the claim of 16 loudspeakers playing azan from the mosque. A police personnel speaking to BOOM refuted the claim.
"The mosque has one or two loudspeakers. There are a Gurudwara, a temple and a mosque close to each other on the same premise. None of these places of worships have flouted any law regarding the permissible decibel level," the police personnel told BOOM.
We also looked for news reports about permissible limit for loudspeakers in Uttarakhand and found several reports from 2018.
According to a report published in the Indian Express in June 2018, 'the Uttarakhand High Court has directed the state government to ensure that no loudspeakers are used in temples, mosques, gurdwaras, or any other place in the state unless permission has been sought from the concerned authorities for the usage'.
The court order had further stated that permission for using loudspeaker must be given 'only on the condition that the noise level shall not exceed 5dB(A)'.
According to a Times of India report published in July 2020, the Uttarakhand High Court had later rectified its earlier order on the 5dB(A) noise level of loudspeakers.
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