Hours after a case was registered against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday, 3 May, over his provocative remarks, the political leader has issued a renewed 'appeal to Hindus' to play Hanuman Chalisa near mosques where loudspeakers are being used.
"I appeal to all Hindus that tomorrow, 4 May, if you hear loudspeakers blaring azan; in those very places, play the Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers. That's when they will realise, the hindrance of these loudspeakers."MNS Chief Raj Thackeray
"I appeal to the Hindus that, make them hear our Hanuman Chalisa... If one hears masjids playing loudspeakers, citizens should dial 100 and lodge a complaint. One must complain everyday," he said in a statement shared on Twitter.
Asserting that the state government "stands very feeble on the issue," he wrote in the communication that while mosques were given permission to use loudspeakers, temples were not. He also noted that loudspeakers were a source on noise pollution, claiming that the issue was "not a religious issue but a social one".
The statement comes hours after a case was registered against Thackeray on Tuesday in connection with his call for removal of loudspeakers from mosques in the state after Eid.
Loudspeakers must be removed from mosques in the state by 3 May, the MNS leader had said on 1 May, adding that if it were not done, then all Hindus should play Hanuman Chalisa outside the mosques.
Maharashtra Police on 'High Alert'
The Maharashtra Police is "alert" and prepared to deal with any law and order issues arising out of agitations called by Thackeray in the ongoing loudspeaker row, Director General of Police (DGP) Rajnish Seth had said earlier on Tuesday. Security has been stepped up outside the house of the MNS chief.
As tensions prevailed in the state, DGP Seth also met state Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil on Tuesday and reviewed the law and order situation ahead of the MNS chief's deadline. "Maharashtra Police will act against anyone trying to disturb communal harmony," the state police chief told PTI on Tuesday.
Eighty-seven companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) have been mobilised and more than 30,000 home guards are deployed across the state.
Taking preventive measures, the police on Tuesday slapped notices on thousands of MNS activists and leaders.
Police Yet To Act on Non-Bailable Warrant Against Raj Thackeray in 2008 Case
The Magistrate Court in Shirala, Sangli, issued a non-bailable warrant against Thackeray on 6 April, in connection with a 2008 case. Despite the court asking the Mumbai Police to arrest and present Thackeray before the bench, the police are yet to comply with the order.
In 2008, a few young men appearing for a railway recruitment examination were assaulted in Kalyan and other places in Maharashtra by MNS activists who alleged that jobs should only be given to local Maharashtrians.
Thackeray was arrested on 22 October 2008, following which MNS activists had staged a protest and pelted stones in Dharmapuri village. He was then booked under Sections 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence), 117 (abetting commission of offence by the public or by more than ten persons), and 143 and Section 135 of the Bombay Police Act for allegedly making inflammatory speeches.
Thackeray's 'Provocative' Speech
On 12 April, during his Gudi Padwa speech in Thane, Raj Thackeray said that loudspeakers needed to be removed from mosques. Later, while addressing a rally in Aurangabad on 1 May, he gave an ultimatum to the Uddhav Thackeray-led government to remove loudspeakers from mosques by 4 May. He said he did not want to stoke riots in Maharashtra but warned that Hanuman Chalisa would be played in front of such mosques.
The MNS president said, "It is my humble request to the administration that today is the 1st. Tomorrow, it is the 2nd. Eid is on the 3rd. I don't want to spread any poison at their festival. I will not listen from the 4th. It is my request to all the Hindu brothers and sisters of Maharashtra that you must play Hanuman Chalisa at double volume wherever their loudspeakers are installed."
He added, "If you are going to give the loudspeaker a religious turn, remember that we will have to reply with religion only."
Aurangabad Police has reportedly examined his speech to ascertain whether he said anything unlawful, hurt religious sentiments, or incited hatred amongst one community against another. They stated that while giving permission for the rally, they had strictly instructed that remarks that could create law and order problems were barred.
The police have submitted a report on Thackeray's speech to the Maharashtra DGP Rajnish Seth.
Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil said there was no reason to assume that if some ultimatum was given, the state government would get scared. He assured the Aurangabad Police would maintain the law order situation.
“The government does not run on an ultimatum. There is rule of law in the state. There is a buzz that anti-social elements will be brought to the state for instigating riots,” Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Home Department stated that it received intelligence reports that people from other states might come to Maharashtra to disturb the law and order situation there, reported ANI.
Maharashtra Home Minister briefed Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray about the same.
Raj Thackeray Calls Off 'Maha Aartis' on Eid
Thackeray on Monday had asked his party workers not to perform 'Maha Aartis' scheduled for Tuesday on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya. The loudspeaker issue is not a religious one, but social with related inconvenience, he said.
Eid is being celebrated on Tuesday and the Muslim community should have no hindrance in celebrating their festival, he added.
Thackeray called for a meeting on Tuesday with senior leaders of his party at his residence to discuss further course of action on chanting Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers outside mosques.