Reigniting the old controversy, the Uttar Pradesh Police has re-launched a drive to remove illegal loudspeakers from religious places, as the “noise pollution has reached alarming levels”.
So far, the UP Police has removed around 700 loudspeakers installed at religious places in districts such as Kanpur and Lucknow and said the drive would continue.
ON CM’S DIRECTION
The UP Police’s move came after a recent meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in which he reportedly said that the loudspeakers that were removed earlier are up again.
“During my recent visits to the districts, I have seen that the loudspeakers are up again and it is not acceptable. The officers should immediately get the loudspeakers removed through communication,” Adityanath said, in a recent high-level meeting aimed to review the home department’s work.
In addition, the CM also directed officials to establish dialogue with the DJ and music system operators, ensuring they don’t violate the Supreme Court’s order on noise pollution.
OVER 700 LOUDSPEAKERS REMOVED SO FAR
The UP Police swung into action, after the CM’s order and launched the drive to ensure the removal of the loudspeakers.
The Lucknow Police was perhaps first to initiate the drive, removing 400 loudspeakers so far. “On the instruction of the state government, loudspeakers installed at religious structures affecting masses and their interests are being removed. People are also cooperating with us in making the anti-loudspeaker drive successful,” said Rahul Raj, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Lucknow West.
The Kanpur Police was the next to follow the drill. “A loudspeaker removal drive was carried out in all four zones of the Kanpur Police Commissionerate. Five police teams were pressed into action to make the drive successful. During the drive, decibel levels of the loudspeakers were checked and around 320 loudspeakers were removed from temples, mosques, shrines and other places,” said Anand Prakash Tiwari, joint commissioner of police, Kanpur.
NOT NEW TO UP
It’s not the first time when the controversy over the use of loudspeakers at religious places has erupted in UP. In 2022, the UP government had issued orders for removal of loudspeakers from religious places across the state. The home department had sought a compliance report by April 30, 2022 from all districts and police commissionerates over removal of loudspeakers/reducing their volume, as per the directives of the UP Pollution Control Board. Officials with the home department asserted that loudspeakers were being removed from all religious places without discrimination.
The UP CM had last year said that everyone has the freedom to follow his/her method of worship according to his/her religious ideology. “Although microphones can be used, make sure the sound does not come out of any premises. Other people should not face any problem,” he had said.
In 2022, the UP Police removed 57,000 loudspeakers and had lowered the volume of 62,000 loudspeakers. As one of the first steps in this direction, a loudspeaker installed atop the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura was muted on April 20. As a result, the ‘Manglacharan Aarti’, held for an hour from 5am, was not broadcast through the loudspeaker at Bhagwat Bhavan on the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi premise. Shaktipeeth Devipatan Tulsipur Temple in Balrampur removed three out of four loudspeakers and reduced the volume of one to permissible limits. In Gorakhpur, the Gorakhnath Temple trust lowered the volume of loudspeakers on the premises. In Meerut, the volume of loudspeaker was lowered at the Rajrajeshwari temple. In Kanpur, the Mandir-Mutt coordination committee, too, removed the loudspeakers from temples. And in Ayodhya, all prominent seers of the temple town extended their support to the state government’s initiative to keep a check on loudspeakers.
In several districts, senior clerics had asked the mosque committees to reduce the volume of loudspeakers in compliance with the CM’s directive, the maximum number of (2,395) loudspeakers was removed from Lucknow that has around 700 mosques, out of which around 40 are Shia mosques. Lucknow was followed by 1,788 loudspeakers in Gorakhpur Zone, 1,366 in Varanasi Zone, 1,204 in Meerut Zone, 1,172 in Prayagraj Zone, 1,070 in Bareilly Zone, 1,056 in Kanpur Zone, 413 in Agra Zone.
The UP Police had removed more than 57,000 loudspeakers and had lowered the volume of around 62,000 loudspeakers last year.
However, the figures of the loudspeakers removed this year is likely to go up as the figures from other districts are yet to be collated.