Loudspeaker ultimatum: It’s now or never, Raj urges citizens to complain
According to senior MNS functionaries, Raj said that the plan remains unchanged but workers should take prior permission of the local police to stage protests
Mumbai “It’s now or never,” tweeted Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday, as he appealed to his ‘fellow Hindus’ to broadcast Hanuman Chalisa whenever they hear prayers from the mosques.
Although toned down, Raj stuck to his ultimatum and taunted his cousin and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on whether he wished to listen to his late father Balasaheb Thackeray or Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar.
To decide the party’s next plan of action, Raj met with senior MNS leaders. According to them, Raj said that the plan remains unchanged but workers should take prior permission of the local police to stage protests. Most of the party leaders seconded his view as the campaign has gained nationwide popularity and the party plans on further capitalising on this opportunity. However, his post on Twitter does not mention anything about police permission.
Raj said that citizens need to adopt a three-fold campaign against these loudspeakers. “Hanuman Chalisa should be broadcasted opposite the mosques. All local associations and individual citizens need to undertake a signature campaign against these loudspeakers. Locals should dial number 100 (police helpline) as soon as the loudspeaker starts and complain to the police department about the inconvenience caused to them,” he posted on social media.
In his statement, Thackeray quoted the Supreme Court’s judgement and said that it’s time to implement the guidelines issued by the apex court. He said if permissions are given to mosques, even temples should be allowed to do similar things. He welcomed the mosques who have decided to bring down the loudspeakers and said it was the responsibility of the local Hindus to ensure there is no trouble with such mosques. He added that the government does not have enough prisons to accommodate the Hindus who will defy the state on the loudspeaker issue.
Meanwhile, the MVA government has filed a case against Raj for provocative speech at his Aurangabad rally on Tuesday and has also begun preventive action against MNS leaders and workers. The police department has issued notices to 15,000 MNS, BJP and other party workers and asked them to stay away from the city between May 3 and 7. They have been warned that any violation will result in action under Section 188. Late at night, the Mumbai and Navi Mumbai police also raided MNS offices and took custody of several local MNS leaders.
Reacting to these notices, MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar said, “The police are doing their duty and we don’t blame them. It seems the government has become afraid of us and are resorting to such tactics.” He added, “When we speak against a violation, we are slapped with notices, while no action is being taken against those who broke laws for years by constructing illegal mosques and installing unauthorised loudspeakers.”
However, political analyst Hemant Desai said that Raj can’t afford to withdraw the agitation. “There is bound to be some trouble,” said Desai. Similar is the view of political commentator Surendra Jondhale, who said, “In recent times, even a few lumpen elements have a potential to create nuisance.”
Meanwhile, a senior police inspector in Mumbai said that local MNS leaders have already been warned. “I have two mosques in my jurisdiction and we have asked them to lower their decibel. The mosque committee has agreed to our plea. In addition, I met MNS office-bearers of my area and told them sternly not to protest,” said the official who refused to come on record.