Pune Police keeps hawk's eye on MNS workers over Raj Thackeray’s ultimatum to mosques to remove loudspeakers

Most of the mosque managements in Pune chose to lower the volume of the morning azaan, and the situation was peaceful on Wednesday even as the police deployed large number of personnel all over city


Nadeem Inamdar

The Pune Police has taken strict preventive action against MNS workers in the city, issuing notices to as many as 800 of them in view of the ultimatum given by MNS supremo Raj Thackeray seeking removal of loudspeakers from mosques by May 3.

It detained sixteen MNS workers in connection with a Mahaarti programme in Vishrambaug and Khadak Police Station areas in the city on Wednesday.

The Special Branch (SB), the internal security and intelligence monitoring agency of the Pune Police, claimed that the activists were detained under section 68 of the Mumbai Police Act.

Eleven MNS workers were detained under Vishrambaug Police Station while five were detained under Khadak Police Station jurisdictions.

As many as 234 MSN party workers were given notices by the city police under CrPC section 149 while 55 of other party workers were booked under section 68 and 69 of Mumbai Police Act. Three MNS workers were booked under CrPC 151.

The Special Branch (SB) stated that the law and order in the city was not disturbed and appropriate security measures had been taken.

MNS supremo Raj Thackeray, during a rally in Aurangabad, had said that he would remain firm on his call for removal of loudspeakers from mosques and asked Hindus to play Hanuman Chalisa outside them from May 4 onwards if they were not taken down.

Pune MNS Chief Sainatha Babar in a tweet on Tuesday had said that the state government will be responsible for backlash in Pune if Raj Thackeray was arrested.

The MNS chief was booked by Aurangabad Police for violation of 14 terms and conditions imposed by them on him while granting him permission for holding the rally. The FIR against Thackeray mentions that he had instigated his supporters by issuing provocative statements.

The FIR has been registered under Sections 116 (abetment), 117 (whoever abets the commission of an offence by the public generally or by any number or class of persons exceeding ten) and 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 135 of the Maharashtra Police Act against Thackeray, organiser Rajiv Jawalikar and other unknown persons.

Meanwhile, most of the mosque managements in Pune chose to lower the volume of the morning azaan, and the situation was peaceful in the city on Wednesday.

Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta said that the situation was completely peaceful as the entire police force was on duty to ensure that there was no disturbance to law and order in the city.

Interestingly, two MNS corporators -- Vasant More and Sainath Babar -- were unreachable throughout the day as their phones were switched off.

More had earlier taken a stand that he would not call for removal of loudspeakers from mosques after which he was sacked from the post of MNS city unit president and replaced with Babar.

Kondhwa suburb of Pune, which has the highest number of mosques in Pune, did not witness a single incident of recital of Hanuman Chalisa. Kondhwa Police Station Incharge Sardar Patil said, “The area was peaceful and there was no recital of Hanuman Chalisa in front of mosques in Kondhwa. We had taken adequate precaution in terms of force deployment and preventive action against MNS workers, restraining them from committing any cognizable offence,” he said.

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