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Saturday, June 15, 2024

MNS Leaders’ Agitation Against Loudspeakers at Mosques Elicited Mixed Response

The trustee of the Jama Masjid, Shamshuddin Inamdar, reported in a letter to the district government that the loudspeakers had been removed from the Jama Masjid

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

INDIA. Mumbai: On Wednesday, as the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists were being arrested for their agitation demanding the removal of loudspeakers from mosques, the agitation received a mixed response, with some mosques in Maharashtra playing the Azan (call to prayer) without using loudspeakers or at low decibels.

At Mahim (Mumbai), Haveli (Pune), Pandharpur (Solapur), Miraj (Sangli), Kalyan, Mumbra, Padgha (Bhiwandi) (in Thane), and Ratnagiri, the Azan was played in mosques without loudspeakers. In Kolhapur, Maharashtra, Hindu, and Muslim brothers and sisters prayed together in a temple.

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The Azan was also played without a loudspeaker in Ahmednagar’s Jama Masjid. The Jama Masjid Trustee, on the other hand, insisted that an aarti be played over a loudspeaker in the nearby Shirdi Sai Baba sanctuary, as it has been for centuries.

The trustee of the Jama Masjid, Shamshuddin Inamdar, reported in a letter to the district government that the loudspeakers had been removed from the Jama Masjid. However, the “Kakad” aarti and “Shejarati” should continue to be played on the loudspeaker because the Shridi Sai Baba Shrine attracts devotees of all faiths. The aarti was recited without using a loudspeaker at the Shani Shingnapur shrine in the same district.

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MNS employees, on the other hand, performed the Hanuman Chalisa (a Hindu god Hanuman’s plea) during the morning Azan on Wednesday in Charkop, Kandivali, North Mumbai. The police quickly apprehended the agitators.

In Mumbai, MNS activists Sandip Deshpande and Santosh Dhuri were charged with obstructing police officers from performing their duties, and one Santosh Sali was arrested.

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Deshpande, Dhuri, and two others were charged with culpable homicide under sections 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 353 (assault or criminal force to prevent a public servant from performing his duty), 279 (rash driving), and 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Deshpande and Dhuri stood outside MNS Chief Raj Thackeray’s Shivaji Park house. When Deshpande was speaking to the media, the cops approached him. However, he is said to have fled in his automobile. 

A female police policeman was hurt in the brawl.

Deshpande, Dhuri, and the vehicle’s driver were being sought. 

Deshpande later maintained that he did not run away and that he was in the city late at night. He stated in a video message that cops surrounded him at the time of the incident and that there was no way he could harm any female cop.

“Earlier in the day, the police rounded up several MNS activists as a precautionary measure. In Kalyan in the Thane district, 29 MNS activists were rounded up to avoid disturbances in the name of reciting Hanuman Chalisa,” Senior Police Inspector Ashok Honmane of Mahatma Phule Police station said. 

In addition, some MNS activists were arrested in Thane city and later released on conditional bail. Externment notices were served on 16 MNS activists in Nashik.

Raj Thackeray has already been charged under sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with the intent to cause riot), 116 (abetting commission of an offence punishable with imprisonment if the offence is not committed), and 117 (abetting commission of an offence by the public or by more than ten persons) of the Indian Penal Code, as well as provisions of the Maharashtra Police Act, for his “provocative” speech on the use of loudspeakers in a public place.

MNS Chief Raj Thackeray told the media that the demonstration, which involves playing the Hanuman Chalisa in front of mosques, will continue till all loudspeakers are removed. He also urged that the state government take action against mosques that played loudspeakers early on Wednesday.

According to Thackeray, “In Mumbai, there are 1,140 mosques, and 135 of them employed loudspeakers for Azaan before 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. on Wednesday. What measures will you take against the erring mosques? The state government is holding our staff and handing them notices. Why are we being singled out rather than others who break the law by using loudspeakers?”

“I’m not suggesting that loudspeakers be removed solely from mosques. Even temples should be free of them. I’m not opposed to prayer, but why do you require loudspeakers and microphones? Why are you making us listen to your prayers?”

“There are so many illegal mosques. Who permitted them? This issue is not limited to morning ‘azan.’ We are ready to respond if ‘azan’ is played loudly again. A decibel level of 45 to 55 is acceptable. The Illegal loudspeakers should be removed. It’s not only about mosques, there are several temples where illegal loudspeakers are running. I have already made it clear that the issue of unauthorized loudspeakers is not a religious issue but a social issue.”

Later in the meetings, the police urged religious heads to follow the Supreme Court guidelines and seek official permission to use the loudspeakers. However, the heads, including those representing temples, Gurudwaras, and mosques, expressed displeasure over “interference in religious activities.” 

According to police records, in Mumbai, out of 1040 mosques, 950 mosques, and 2400 temples, 24 temples have sought permission to install the loudspeakers.

Meanwhile, the Oshiwara Police in northwest Mumbai convened a Maulvis meeting in response to a memorandum filed by MNS leader Shalini Thackeray. The Maulvis agreed to adhere to the Supreme Court’s decibel limit when the Azan is played during the meeting.

Also Read: Heavy Security Deployed in Mumbai, Neighbouring Areas Amid Loudspeaker Row


  • Raju Vernekar

    Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

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