The Delhi Minorities Commission has sent notices to two deputy commissioners of police following several complaints that policemen were asking mosques not to recite the azaan, or call for prayer, on loudspeakers.
The commission in a statement on Friday said it was a “pressing” issue “due to the beginning of the month of Ramazan when Muslims fast and break their fast on hearing the azaan at sunset time”.
Ramazan started on Saturday.
The commission had earlier written to lieutenant governor Anil Baijal, who oversees Delhi police, and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose government had closed all religious places on March 23, against the alleged police excess.
While religious places are closed to the public to prevent gatherings, functionaries at religious sites are allowed to remain within the premises and conduct rituals in private.
“The commission has requested that azaan should not be banned from mosques while mosques will continue to meticulously follow the Covid-19 restrictions on permitted numbers of people for any gathering and social distancing,” the commission said in its statement.
“No congregational prayers are being held in Delhi mosques since the lockdown but azaan continued. However, the commission received information from some areas where policemen are telling mosques to stop azaan and in some cases they have even removed the loudspeakers,” the statement added.
The two DCPs were sent notices after a Muslim charity complained that four mosques and one madarsa run by them have stopped reciting the azaan for the past 20 days after oral orders from local police, and requested help to resume the call to prayer before Ramazan started.
The police have separately started disciplinary proceedings against two constables after a video that went viral purportedly showed them telling a mosque caretaker in Arjun Park, northwest Delhi, that the lieutenant governor had disallowed the use of loudspeakers in mosques.
The video purportedly shows the two policemen threatening the caretaker with arrest if the azaan is played on a loudspeaker. Two women are heard asking the cops to show the order of the LG and explain how the azaan spreads the virus. One of the cops asks them to come and read the order at the police station.
After the purported video emerged, Delhi police tweeted: “While observing roza and prayers, we expect everyone to follow lockdown as per the guidelines. Azaan may be carried out in accordance with NGT guidelines. It is requested that namaz may be performed while staying indoors and have sehri at home.”
Baijal retweeted this.
DCP (Rohini) P.K. Mishra, who is not among the officers who have received the notices, said the two constables were in the wrong. “The act of the constables was totally wrong, and disciplinary action has been initiated against them…. Station house officers have been asked to brief all personnel in person to clear any confusion on what is prohibited during the lockdown.”