VIDEO: Mosques must take approval for use of loudspeakers in Maharashtra, residents call for prayers from streets

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In a deft political move, Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government 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.

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.

Ever since the move came into effect, some local residents came to the streets in Mumbai city to make call for prayer.

A video that went viral on social media showed men standing giving the call for prayers.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Walse-Patil discussed the issue in detail and now Director-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.

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.

Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale on Tuesday reiterated his Republican Party of India (A) does not agree with MNS President Raj Thackeray’s demand for removing loudspeakers from mosques by May 3.

Talking to mediapersons, he said even the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not support Raj Thackeray’s controversial stand on the issue that has raked up a political row in the state.

“We oppose the demand of MNS to remove loudspeakers from mosques.

Even the founder of Shiv Sena, the late Balasaheb Thackeray was against any such demand. I feel divisions should not be created between religions like this,” Athawale urged.

Though certain BJP leaders in Mumbai and other parts have endorsed the MNS stance, Athawale claimed that the BJP is not in favour of the call for banning loudspeakers on mosques.

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