Maharashtra to restrict loudspeaker use at religious sites amid azaan row
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday appealed to "Hindu brothers" to "be prepared" if loudspeakers are not removed from mosques by May 3.
Amid sharp comments from MNS chief Raj Thackeray on azaan, the Maharashtra home department has decided to implement the earlier court orders on the use of loudspeakers at religious sites. The state government will now make it mandatory for religious sites to seek permission for using loudspeakers.
Maharashtra home minister Dilip Walse Patil will today hold a meeting with the director-general of police to instruct him to direct all police commissioners and officers on the decision, reported news agency ANI. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and Patil will also meet to discuss the law and order situation in the state and the issue of the use of loudspeakers in public places, according to ANI.
Patil later said that the guidelines on the use of loudspeakers in public places will be issued in the next 1-2 days.
"We have kept an eye on the law and order situation in the state. Strict action will be taken against those who attempt to disturb peace in the state," ANI quoted the NCP leader as saying.
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Nashik Police has already issued an order making it mandatory to take permission loudspeakers and Maharashtra DGP has been directed to hold a review meeting with district administrations for implementing the order.
Deepak Pandey, Commissioner of Police, Nashik, told ANI that permission has to be taken for playing Hanuman Chalisa or Bhajan on loudspeakers and it will not be allowed within 15 minutes before and after the Azaan.
"It will not be allowed within 100 metres of the mosque. The aim of this order is to maintain law and order," he added, as quoted by ANI.
The row over loudspeaker use escalated after the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader raised the pitch for Hindutva, calling on "Hindu brothers" to "be prepared" if loudspeakers are not removed from mosques by May 3.
However, on Sunday, Thackeray insisted that loudspeakers relaying the 'azaan' call is more of a social issue than a religious one. He told a media briefing in Pune that he doesn't want peace in the society disturbed, "but if the use of loudspeakers continues then they (Muslims) will also have to listen to our prayers on loudspeakers".
"On May 1, I will address a public gathering at Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad). On June 5, I will visit Ayodhya for darshan along with MNS volunteers. I also appeal to others to come to Ayodhya," Thackeray said.
(With ANI inputs)