A day after Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray threatened to play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers if the ones at mosques are not removed, one of his party workers in Mumbai followed through. The police detained him this afternoon and later released him after imposing a fine and warning him against repeating his act.
MNS worker Mahendra Bhanushali was detained after he installed loudspeakers on a tree and started playing Hanuman Chalisa in suburban Mumbai’s Chandivali area, a police official said.
Bhanushali was and the sound equipment seized. However, he was released after almost two hours after imposing a fine of Rs 5,500. Bhanushali was also served a notice to not repeat the act, the police said.
Condemning the police action, Bhanusahli said he was being harassed for “performing aarti”.
“Whatever Raj Thackeray had to say, he has already said and the orders are out. We will play Hanuman Chalisa every morning and evening from Wednesday in our party offices. Ideally, it would be 7 AM and 5 PM but the timings are yet to be worked upon. We don’t intend to disturb anyone, but for ten minutes we will use loudspeakers. The preparations are going to start from tomorrow. We have already placed orders for the loudspeakers,” a senior party official said, not wanting to be named.
On Saturday, Raj Thackeray demanded that loudspeakers in mosques be shut down. “Why are loudspeakers in mosques played at such high volume? If this is not stopped, there will be speakers outside mosques playing Hanuman Chalisa at higher volume,” he had warned at a rally in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park.
Following his speech, the BJP, too, has jumped into the issue.
“Today Mumbai Police imposed Rs 5,050 fine & Gave Notice For Playing Hanuman Chalisa. My Question to Mumbai CP Sanjay Panday Will Same Action Will Now Be Taken For Playing Azaan On LoudSpeakers Without Permission Across Mumbai! Law Is Equal For All!” tweeted BJP leader Mohit Kamboj Bharatiya.
The MNS cadres, however, said they are not discouraged by the police action.
“Now that we have been fined, we will approach the courts against the fine. Because it cannot happen that we are fined for playing Hanuman Chalisa over the loudspeakers and they are let off” said a MNS leader on condition of anonymity.
The Nationalist Congress Party, which is a party of the three-party coalition government in Maharashtra, launched a scathing attack on Raj Thackeray’s loudspeaker politics.
NCP leader Jitendra Awhad said that Thackeray was reading out a script given to him. “This is the same person who some years ago said that he had the blueprint for the entire state. So is this the development plan he has at hand? Doesn’t he like peace in the state that he’s inciting the youth with his remarks?” Awhad asked.
Awhad also raised doubts about the future of MNS. “People look for substance when they return after hearing a speech. They may come to hear a good orator but ultimately ask if they have anything to gain from it. They come in thousands and vote in hundreds,” he said.
Hitting out at Raj Thackeray, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that the MNS chief’s remarks were “scripted and sponsored” by the BJP.
“It is clear that the (speech of) loudspeaker blaring at the Shivaji Park yesterday was scripted and sponsored by BJP,” Raut told reporters, in a reference to Thackeray’s speech.