Nashik police commissioner transferred after order on use of loudspeakers at religious sites

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday transferred Nashik Police Commissioner Deepak Pandey days after issuing a directive banning bhajans or songs on loudspeakers 15 minutes before and after azaan prayers within 100 meters from mosques in the city, PTI reported.

Pandey was among 40 senior police officers who were promoted or transferred by the state government in a major overhaul.

On Monday, Pandey also had prohibited use of loudspeakers without authorization in all places of worship, The Indian Express reported. He had warned that legal action would be taken against those who violated the directive after May 3. Hindutva groups had criticized the order.

Pandey’s directive came after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray has set May 3 as the deadline for the government of Maha Vikas Aghadi to remove loudspeakers from mosques. He urged Maharashtra Navnirman Sena members to play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers set up outside mosques if the government did not act.

Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil said on Wednesday he would hold a meeting with leaders of all political parties and organizations before taking a final decision on the matter.

Meanwhile, Pandey had also faced backlash from the Maharashtra government after alleging that land mafias were involved with a section of revenue department officials, PTI reported. In a letter to the state police chief, he had called for the powers of district tax officials to be curtailed.

He has now been appointed Special Inspector General of the Department for the Prevention of Atrocities Against Women. It is said to be a demotion from his previous role. Deputy Inspector General of Police (VIP Security) Jayant Naiknavare will replace Pandey as Nashik Police Commissioner.

In Wednesday’s reshuffle, the Maharashtra government promoted 14 officials to the post of Inspector General of Special Police and transferred many of them elsewhere. Eleven officials were promoted to deputy inspector general and transferred from their current duty stations, PTI reported.

The rejig also came on Sunday amid communal tensions in the Amravati district after a saffron flag was raised in the Muslim-majority Delhi Gate district of Achalpur.

A curfew was imposed on Sunday evening in the neighboring towns of Achalpur and Paratwada in Amravati district after communal violence broke out. The police arrested 23 people and registered a first information report for riots and assaults on officials.

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