<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While a series of controversial tweets from singer Sonu Nigam on Monday, questioning the need for mosques to use loudspeakers for Azaan (a call to prayer), sparked a furore on social media, it brought into focus the dismal record of the police in dealing with complaints of violations of decibel level rules by unauthorised loudspeakers at religious places or political rallies.”God bless everyone. I’m not a Muslim and I have to be woken up by the Azaan in the morning. When will this forced religiousness end in India,” Nigam tweeted on Monday morning.This was followed by another: “And by the way Mohammed did not have electricity when he made Islam.. Why do I have to have this cacophony after Edison?””I don’t believe in any temple or gurudwara using electricity to wake up people who don’t follow the religion. Why then..? Honest? True?” he added.Nigam ended with, “Gundagardi hai bus.”In October 2014, the Bombay High Court (HC) had ordered the Mumbai Police to act against illegal loudspeakers at religious structures. However, in response to Right to Information (RTI) applications by Kurla resident Sagar Deore, the police owned up its reluctance to take any effective action.Through an RTI application on December 30, 2016, Deore sought details of the action taken by the police on a complaint by residents in Kurla against unauthorised loudspeakers at mosques. The police replied that it was unable act as it could lead to law-and-order problems. The applicant also asked the police to provide a date by which illegal loudspeakers would be removed if not already removed.The answer was: “As it can create a law-and-order situation, no action has been taken.”Speaking to DNA, Deore claimed: “We have filed RTIs in several police stations. Most have replied in a similar manner; some did not even reply. Some of them have replied verbally that no action has been taken.””We will be filing a contempt petition in court on the reply,” said Sanjiv Punalekar, a HC lawyer.Sumaira Abdulali, Convenor of Awaaz Foundation, said: “The Supreme Court as well as the Bombay High Court, through several orders, have directed noise pollution rules to be strictly followed and emphasised that religion should not be the reason to break the provisions of noise pollution rules.”She added that in its final order in August 2016, the HC specifically directed that noise pollution in religious places should be controlled in accordance with silence zone norms, which do not permit the use of loudspeakers or public address system.Abdulali said that when court orders clearly state that loudspeakers are banned in silence zones, they need to be seized and action needs to be taken, regardless of whether the violation was in a mosque or a temple. “Noise pollution is a health issue, and adversely affects the health of people from all communities. It is known to cause sleep deprivation and adversely affect hearing, mental health, heart and blood pressure,” she said.Vashi, Sector 4 resident Ajay Marathe, who has been pursuing a case of noise level violation by a mosque opposite his building, located in a silence zone, said that noise pollution should be treated as noise pollution and not as a religious issue.”I am pursuing my complaints against the mosque as noise rules are being violated. I have also filed several complaints about the harmful effects of crackers being burst on Diwali, citing that apart from noise pollution it also causes air pollution,” said Marathe.
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