RAWALPINDI, Dec 11: In a recent report sent to the provincial home department, the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police highlighted the prickly issue of illegal use of loudspeakers in mosques and Imambargahs.
In November alone, 59 incidents of violations were spotted, but only one case was registered with the police in Attock, under section 3 of the Loudspeakers and Sound Amplifiers Ordinance, 1965.
Moreover, no cleric was arrested by the police for violating the government ban.
Earlier, at least 175 violations were reported between July and October 2012 to the home department by the CTD.
In its report, CTD also pointed out that the use of external loudspeakers in small mosques especially established in commercial markets was irritating for passers-by and residents, and suggested that the Regional Police Officer Rawalpindi and City Police Officer strictly enforce the government ban.
Under the provisions of the ordinance, the devices can only be used in mosques for calling for Azan and the sermon.
Mounting loudspeakers outside mosques and other worship places is also prohibited.
Chaudhry Mohammad Hanif, superintendent of police Rawal Division, told Dawn that violators (clerics) are arrested and taken to the court: “Yes, cases are registered against those violating the government ban on use of loudspeakers and arrests are also being made by the police.”
However, when in August a case was registered against Maulana Azizur Rehman, a cleric of Allahabad Westridge mosque, for delivering speeches against the government during Friday prayers, it was eventually dropped by the police because of fears of public retaliation.
Needless to say, he wasn’t even detained by the police.
When Dawn contacted Advocate Raja Saimul Haq for the legal procedures, he replied: “The police can register a case against the violator and a police officer not less than the rank of the sub-inspector can confiscate the apparatus or loudspeaker being used in commission of an offence under this ordinance.”
He added that under the law, the violator could face three months simple imprisonment or Rs 2,000 fine or both, if convicted by the court of law.
Meanwhile, Deputy Superintendent of Police Shoaib Khan claimed that if the violations continued to increase, the local police and district administration would hold meetings with religious scholars of different sects to create awareness about the ban imposed by the government and request them to help the government to maintain law and order.
“District peace committee would also be involved in this process to help the government to implement its policies,” he added.
But it was evident that the crux of the police’s strategy is pacification than taking stern measures and setting an example, as the DSP said: “After all efforts have been made by the district administration and police to establish writ of the government, the local police would start registration of cases against the violators so that they will face the legal action.”