Loudspeaker row: MNS leaders booked, 150 workers arrested in Nashik
Amid the Maharashtra loudspeaker row, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leaders Sandeep Deshpande and Santosh Dhuri were booked on Wednesday under various IPC sections, including "assault to deter a public servant" from the discharge of duty. Additionally, 150 MNS workers were arrested for creating "communal tension" in Nashik. The move comes amid MNS chief Raj Thackeray's appeal to play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers outside mosques.
- Amid India witnessing a spate of communal clashes in recent weeks—with the Jodhpur violence being the latest—Raj Thackeray had last month demanded the removal of loudspeakers from mosques—calling it a "nuisance"—triggering a new row in Maharashtra.
- Meanwhile, Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray accused the MNS of being the BJP's "B Team" attempting to cut into Sena's vote bank.
The Mumbai Police on Wednesday detained a number of MNS workers who gathered outside Raj Thackeray's Shivaji Park residence. The MNS leaders—Deshpande and Dhuri—along with their driver, managed to escape and are absconding. A cop lodged a complaint after they sped away in their car when approached by the police, injuring a woman police officer. They were later booked under various IPC sections.
The police said the arrests were a part of "preventive action." Inspector-General of Police (Nashik), BG Shekhar Patil said, "Preventive actions are being taken against those involved in such activities. Cops have been deployed in all sensitive spots to ensure law and order." In Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, 200 MNS workers were detained, and 12 party activists were arrested in Thane.
In Pune, 11 MNS workers/office-bearers, including the party's state secretary Ajay Shinde, were detained under relevant sections of the Bombay Police Act after they came out of the Khalkar Maruti temple after performing "maha aarti" and recital of Hanuman Chalisa, the police said. In Nashik, preventive action was taken against 416 persons under various CrPC sections, an official said.
To recall, Raj Thackeray had called on "Hindu brothers" to play Hanuman Chalisa loudly outside mosques if the loudspeakers there weren't removed by Tuesday. The police reportedly met maulvis and trustees of various mosques in Mumbai, asking them to follow the Supreme Court's guidelines on noise pollution. The morning prayers at several mosques in the state were offered peacefully on Wednesday.
The Maharashtra government and police have taken extensive steps to maintain law and order. The Mumbai police took action and imposed a fine of Rs 1,200 on a person for playing the Hanuman Chalisa on the terrace of a building in Charkop during the azaan call on a loudspeaker. Another incident was reported in the Chandivali area of Andheri, the police said.
Meanwhile, the Aurangabad Police on Tuesday filed a case against Raj Thackeray and the organizers of his Sunday rally in Aurangabad, when he appealed to people to play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers in the areas where loudspeakers are used for azaan. "If they [Muslims] don't understand nicely, we will show them the power of Maharashtra," he had stated.