NGO welcomes Shiv Sena’s demand to stop mosque loudspeakers


Mumbai : Awaaz Foundation, a Mumbai NGO fighting against noise pollution, Thursday welcomed the Shiv Sena’s demand to stop mosques from using loudspeakers to give the call to prayer.

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“The Shiv Sena has at last supported my request for banning loudspeakers atop mosques, though it took some provocation to reach this point,” said NGO chief Sumaira Abdul Ali, who had filed a complaint against the party for violating Bombay High court-imposed noise levels in its Dussehra rally at the Shivaji Park Sunday.

Mumbai Police registered two separate cases, under the environment protection act and anti-noise pollution laws, against the Shiv Sena.

Stung by the proceedings against it, an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamna Wednesday opposed the loudspeakers atop mosques which disturbed people at different times of the day and night.

It also demanded why Ali was not raising her voice against this – “Is she not disturbed or bothered by the loudspeakers blaring from the mosques?”

In her response, Ali said that as the main opposition party in the state, the Sena did nothing to ensure implementation of the Maharashtra government’s affidavit filed in the Bombay High Court last year that all religious places would be declared zones of silence.

“Hope has dawned once more. I hope the endangered Sena Tiger stops roaring and gets down to some action soon,” she said, in a statement released here.

Ali said that in 2004, she had filed a notice in a pending public interest litigation demanding a ban on loudspeakers on all religious places.

Following this, in 2005, Muslim clerics voluntarily abandoned the early morning ‘azaan’ briefly when the Supreme Court passed orders restricting Ganesh celebrations till 10 p.m. However, the azaan calls resumed after the time for the Ganesh celebrations was extended (at the request of Maharashtra) up to 12 midnight.

“It is said that all communities continue to break the law with impunity and as usual, the common man suffers so that political parties, for political and commercial gain, can continue to disturb their peace in the name of religious sentiments. We also filed police complaints against the morning azaan but nothing happened,” Ali said.

In 2009, the Maharashtra government filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court that they would notify religious places as “silence zones”, but so far no action has been taken in this regard.

Ali appealed to all political parties and communities to fight the evils of noise pollution which leads to hearing loss, high blood pressure, mental stress and heart disease, among others, and ensure that noise levels for all occasions are within safe and legal limits.