A Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader was taken into police custody for allegedly playing ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ on loudspeakers without permission at the party office in Mumbai’s Ghatkopar on Sunday, according to news agency ANI.
The accused, Mahendra Bhanushali, said, “Yesterday, Raj Thackeray sahab ordered ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ to be played on the road, I obliged… Police came and told us not to do it as it could lead to enmity, but was there any enmity over mosque loudspeakers for so many years?”
“No one takes permission, it isn’t just me. So action should be taken on everyone if it’s taken on me. The police did their job. Raj (Thackeray) Sahab says ‘never say anything to the police’. Action should be taken wherever loudspeakers are used.”
Bhanushali, after leaving the Ghatkopar police station, said, “Should enmity arise due to Hindu prayers? If anyone has problems with it, they should shut their ears and sit inside their houses. They will be given answers if they oppose such things… I am meeting Raj Sahab tomorrow to brief him about what happened.”
The MNS leader added that the police imposed a ₹5,050 fine on him and gave a notice stating that if he played it again, strict action will be taken.
“My loudspeakers will be given later. If the MVA government doesn’t take action, ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ will be played on big loudspeakers in front of mosques,” Bhanushali claimed.
Addressing the party workers on Saturday, Thackeray had asked the state government to remove the loudspeakers from mosques and warned of putting loudspeakers in front of the mosques and playing ‘Hanuman Chalisa’.
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Thackeray said, “I am not against prayers, you can pray at your home, but the government should take a decision on removing mosque loudspeakers. I am warning now… Remove loudspeakers or else will put loudspeakers in front of the mosque and play Hanuman Chalisa.”
The MNS chief demanded the government to revoke the pensions given to the MPs and MLAs and asked to take their farmhouse away if they have to be given houses.
“The MLA and MP pensions should be stopped. If you want to give homes, then give to the poor people who live in the slums. Why provide the MLAs houses? If you have to provide homes, then take their farmhouses away and then give them houses,” he said.
Thackeray appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to raid the mosques in the Muslim areas in Mumbai and said that the people living there are “Pakistani supporters”.
“I appeal to PM Modi to raid the Madarasas at the Muslim shanties. Pakistani supporters are residing in these shanties. Mumbai Police knows what’s happening there…Our MLAs using them for vote-bank, such people don’t even have Aadhar Card, but the MLAs get them made,” he said.
The MNS chief also hit out at NCP chief Sharad Pawar and said that he is responsible for the rise of casteist politics in Maharashtra after the formation of his party in 1999.
On Sunday, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut hit out at Thackeray, saying the MNS chief’s speech was “scripted and sponsored” by the BJP.
“It is clear that the (speech of) the loudspeaker blaring at the Shivaji Park yesterday was scripted and sponsored by BJP,” Raut told reporters in an apparent reference to the MNS chief.
Pawar said the MNS president never takes a consistent stand on any issue and remains in “hibernation” for three to four months a year which is his “speciality”. “The NCP brings together people from all the castes. Raj Thackeray should have studied the history of NCP (before making comments),” Pawar told reporters in Kolhapur.
(With inputs from agencies)