For hundreds of Ganesh festival organisers in the city, police crackdown on loud music during processions has come as a shock as they had not witnessed such actions before and had spent thousands of rupees on music systems for the occasion.
While some pandal owners promptly agreed to stop playing loud music, others had heated arguments with the police over this on Wednesday night and many played music till as late as 12.30 am. Some organisers even tried to call political leaders to their rescue.
The police have apparently intensified their crackdown after a clash erupted in the city’s communally sensitive Panigate area Monday night, injuring three policemen.
Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said loudspeakers can be used during Ganesh processions when music is played within a permissible sound level.
Pandal owners, however, claimed that the police did not subject any music system to checking decibel level and asked them to shut down. “We have used music system while carrying the procession last year and before that too, but never faced any police action,” said Vaibhav Gudekar of Sree Gurudutt Yuvak Mandal.
“While we were taking out procession Wednesday night, police asked us to lower the volume in Raopura area, which we did. They then asked us to stop the music altogether, without even checking the sound pollution level,” he said.
Hitesh Joshi of Bhaiji Darogapol Yuvak Mandal said their procession, which covered nine kilometres before reaching the pandal at Chaukhandi, did not play music till Mandvi.
When they started playing music at Mandvi, the police alleegdly tried to stop it and seize the system.
“We called up BJP MLAs from the city but none of them turned up. Then we called up Congress leader Chinnam Gandhi who allowed us to play music and told the police that he would be responsible if any untoward incident happened,” he said.
“Never before in Ganesh festival police came down so heavily on pandals for playing music, which is why I intervened,” said VMC leader of opposition Chinnam.