Maharashtra makes police nod mandatory for loudspeakers at religious places

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Mumbai : In a deft political move, Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government on Monday made police permission compulsory for using loudspeakers at all religious places in the state.

Any unauthorised use of loudspeakers at all religious places or religious functions would invite strict punitive action against the violators, Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil said, as the ‘azaan’ row threatened to become a vexed issue between the MVA and the Opposition.

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Walse-Patil said that a detailed notification on the proposal with the guidelines would be issued in the next couple of days by the Home Department.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Walse-Patil discussed the issue in detail and now irector-General of Police Rajnish Sheth and Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey will work out the modalities to implement the policy.

“The notification shall be issued in the next couple of days. Clear instructions have been given to ensure that the loudspeakers are used within the legally permissible limits and violators would face strict legal action,” warned Walse-Patil.

The MVA decision comes amid a raging controversy over the use of loudspeakers at mosques raked up last week by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray and endorsed by activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Among other things, Raj Thackeray had issued an “ultimatum” of May 3 to the state government to ensure all mosques’ loudspeakers are “silenced or dismantled”, failing which the MNS workers would blare out Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers outside mosques in retaliation, raising apprehensions of a law and order situation.

Under fire from various quarters, Raj Thackeray on Sunday clarified that he was not against religious activities but only opposing the use of loudspeakers which had social and health implications for all people.

Nevertheless, Walse-Patil said the government is monitoring the situation closely and any efforts to “disturb peace and harmony” would attract strong action from the police.

Meanwhile, state Congress President Nana Patole has demanded that the government should ban the Opposition parties’ rallies and processions that have the potential to ignite communal tensions and are intended to divert public attention from bigger issues confronting the country.

However, the MNS is adamant on its stand and said they would go ahead with their ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ programme if loudspeakers from all mosques are not removed by May 3, and expressed their readiness for any action by the government.— IANS

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