MNS workers play Hanuman Chalisa near mosque; Mumbai on alert
Raj Thackeray asserted that recitations from mosques are leading to noise pollution and that his protest was not on religious but on social grounds. Representative photo

MNS workers play Hanuman Chalisa near mosque; Mumbai on alert

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Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers played Hanuman Chalisa on a loudspeaker near a mosque in Charkop area of Mumbai on Wednesday morning, a day after their party chief Raj Thackeray gave a call to recite the religious hymn to protest against loudspeakers blaring azaan.

In a video, an MNS worker, holding the party flag, was seen playing the Hanuman Chalisa on a loudspeaker from a high-rise building in Mumbai. In the background, the azaan could be heard from a loudspeaker of a nearby mosque. In neighbouring Thane city, some MNS activists played the Hanuman Chalisa on a loudspeaker at a spot in Indira Nagar area. No mosque was located in the vicinity.

MNS president Raj Thackeray had on Tuesday urged people to play the Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers on Wednesday wherever they hear loudspeakers “blaring azaan (Islamic prayer call)”.

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In an open letter, Thackeray had asked people to lodge complaints with police by dialling 100 if they are disturbed by the sound of azaan.

“I appeal to all Hindus that tomorrow, the 4th of May, if you hear the loudspeaker blaring with azaan; in those places, play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers. That’s when they will realise the hindrance of these loudspeakers,” the MNS leader had said.

According to reports, the morning prayers were offered peacefully at many mosques and several of them refrained from using loudspeakers during namaaz.

All senior police officials, including Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey, were out to take stock of the security deployment, he said. Police were also deployed outside mosques at some places.

Police reportedly held meetings with maulvis and trustees of mosques who agreed to avoid using loudspeakers during the morning prayers in deference to a Supreme Court order on noise pollution.

In a video circulating on social media, an MNS worker said they were ready to play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers, but did not go ahead with it after local mosques didn’t use loudspeakers during the morning prayers.

There was nakabandi (blockade) at various locations and vehicles were being checked since the early hours to avoid any untoward incident, the official said.

As a precautionary measure, the city police have already issued more than 1,600 notices under various sections of the Criminal Procedure Code, including 149 (for preventing cognisable offences), to MNS workers and others.

To ensure enough police force on ground, the Maharashtra government has cancelled leaves of police personnel.

Heavy security was also deployed at many places in neighbouring in Thane and Palghar districts. There was elaborate police bandobast near the Jumma Masjid in Mumbra township of Thane.

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Some MNS workers had plans to play the Hanuman Chalisa near there, but they left after the azaan was not heard outside the religious premises.

Mumbra police station senior inspector Ashok Kadlag said the situation was under control and there was no report of any untoward incident so far. Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone II, Bhiwandi, Yogesh Chavan also said the powerloom town in Thane was peaceful.

(With inputs from agencies)

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