Gujarat govt bans use of loudspeakers amid lockdown

Gujarat govt bans use of loudspeakers amid lockdown

The circular issued by home department mentions central government's decisions prohibiting all activities barring essential services till May 3

Representative image (iStock Photo)

The Vijay Rupani-led Gujarat government on Monday issued orders banning use of loudspeakers at religious places and prohibiting gathering of all kinds till May 3, the last day of second phase of lockdown. The government said that these restrictions will be followed strictly in the coming days of festivity and it will not be lifted until further orders from the central government comes.
 
The circular issued by home department mentions central government's decisions prohibiting all activities barring essential services till May 3 in the country that includes all "social/political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious/ function/other gatherings."

The state government's circular states that "to control the impact of COVID-19 social distancing is required and in view of this, the restrictions imposed by the central government will be implemented strictly. Gujarat is the second worst affected state after Maharashtra with 3,548 positive cases and 162 deaths.

The circular says that "All kinds of public religious activities/puja, bandgi (both meaning worship in Hindi and Urdu) or any such activities that leads to assembly of people is not permitted and use of loudspeakers or any other medium for these purposes is banned."

It says that all kinds of religious activities can be performed only "privately and in individual capacity." It states that after individual pooja/bandgi, people can't congregate for the purpose of having food or snacks or for any other reason. The circular also appeals religious leaders to create awareness to implement complete lockdown. And, the circular states, those who are found violating these restrictions will be booked under Disaster Management Act, 2005.

 

The new order comes a day after Chief Minister Vijay Rupani claimed in his speech that certain elements were trying to spread misinformation saying conditional relaxation being extended to small shops to reopen in the state in order to facilitate Muslims observing Ramzan. He had said, without naming anyone, that people were spreading false information.

 
Rupani had said, "We are not discriminating among Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or Christians. The government is fighting coronavirus for the safety of all 6.5 crore Gujarati public. It is sad that at a time when the virus is impacting entire humankind, some people are playing politics." 
The circular also comes days after a group of Muslim leaders from Amreli district were denied use of loudspeakers at the mosques for announcing morning sehri and evening iftari calls. About a dozen mosques in the district were locked a month back following announcement of lockdown. With the beginning of Ramzan, they approached District Superintendent of Police Nirlipt Rai for permission to use loudspeakers but he denied. The group "Amreli Jilla Samast Muslim Samaj" made a representation before the chief minister on Saturday and sought his help.
When contacted, Rai confirmed to DH and said that, "State government's previous order is very much clear that use of anything that can cause gathering of people is prohibited. Loudspeaker is one of them. And, it is not just about mosque, the order restricts its usage across religion or any activity. We didn't allow it in the recent past during important function of other religions."