Loudspeaker Protest Won’t Stop, 250 Detained: Raj Thackeray

Mumbai: Following a warning by Raj Thackeray, president of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), to play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers wherever azaan is recited, some mosques in and around Mumbai turned down their loudspeakers during azaan this morning.

Loudspeaker in several areas remained switched off in many places in Maharashtra including Parbhani, Osmanabad, Hingoli, parts of Jalna, Nanded, Nandurbar, Shirdi and Shrirampur. At some places, they were used on low volume.

Around 250-260 MNS workers were detained across Maharashtra. Mumbai police detained several MNS workers gathered outside Raj Thackeray’s residence, officials sad. In Pune, eight MNS workers were detained, they said.

“I have been receiving calls from several parts of the state and outside. At many places, my party’s workers have been detained and issued notices. Those who are following the law are being detained and those who don’t are going scot-free,” Mr Thackeray told the media. He said the issue is “not only about mosques and there are several temples with illegal loudspeakers”.

This is “not a one-day issue,” according to the MNS chief. “If mosques fail to obey the rules, the Hanuman Chalisa will be played at double the normal volume. Loudspeakers generate problems for students and the sick. Is your faith more important than people?”

The MNS chief stressed that this is “not a one-day issue”. “If mosques don’t follow guidelines, then Hanuman Chalisa will be played at double volume. Students and ill people suffer because of loudspeakers. Is your religion bigger than people?”

According to the Maharashtra Home Department, 35 out of the 1,140 mosques in Mumbai used loudspeakers before 6 am today.”Appropriate action should be taken against these 135 mosques that went against the orders of the Supreme Court of India,” the Home Department said.

Mr Thackeray has been charged by the Aurangabad Police Department for allegedly making a controversial speech two days ago. The MNS head has been served with a notice under Section 149 of the CrPC, which is used to prevent a cognizable offence.

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