In an order which has shocked people, the Nashik Police Commissioner passed an order on Monday (April 18) putting restrictions on the chanting of bhajans and Hanuman Chalisa. The order read that no bhajan or Hanuman Chalisa can be chanted 15 minutes before and after Azan. It also said that bhajan and Hanuman Chalisa could not be played within a 100-metre radius of a mosque.
“Permission has to be taken for playing Hanuman Chalisa or Bhajan. It will not be allowed within 15 minutes before and after the Azan. It will not be allowed within 100 metres of the mosque. The aim of this order is to maintain law & order,” ANI quoted Nashik Police Commissioner Deepak Pandey.
The Nashik Police has also directed the religious places to apply for permission for the use of loudspeakers, failing which police action will be initiated against the religious places from May 3 onwards.
No such restriction has been placed on Azan and Mosques.
Criticising the move of the Nashik Police, commentator Pratyasha Rath said, “Muslim areas and Muslim timings now. Once exceptions for some are treated as the only way to maintain L&O, more and more exceptions will be needed to stick to it. The end state of this can be guessed.”
In 2014, a Navi Mumbai resident found that 45 of the 49 mosques in the area did not have permission to use loudspeakers but were still using loudspeakers illegally. Acting on his petition, the Bombay High Court had directed the Mumbai Police to take action against mosques using loudspeakers illegally.
The Mumbai Police failed to implement the order in law and spirit, citing law and order issues.
In May 2020, the Allahabad High Court ruled that Azan may be an integral part of Islam but not the loudspeakers. It had said, “We are of the opinion that azan may be an essential and integral part of Islam but its recitation through loudspeakers or other sound amplifying devices cannot be said to be an integral part of the religion warranting protection of the fundamental right enshrined under Article 25, which is even otherwise subject to public order, morality or health and to other provisions in part III of the Constitution.”
On April 2, while addressing his party workers in Mumbai on the occasion of Gudi Padwa, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray had warned that loudspeakers should be removed from mosques, else he would place loudspeakers in front of mosques and play Hanuman Chalisa.
Following Raj Thackeray’s comment, PFI Mumbra chief Matim Shekhani had warned that he would not spare Thackeray and his party people if they place loudspeakers in front of mosques.