There was an attempt by some sections to disturb the peace in the country as well as in Maharashtra and the law and order machinery was fully prepared and in readiness to thwart any untoward situation, State Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil said on Tuesday.
His comments come in the backdrop of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray’s aggressive stance over prohibiting the playing of “azaan” over loudspeakers and his May 3 ‘ultimatum’ to the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi government of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress to remove loudspeakers before mosques.
“We are taking measures to ensure that there will not be any deterioration in law and order situation. While I do not think the situation will get out of hand, we are nonetheless fully prepared,” the Minister said in Nagpur.
Mr. Thackeray has exhorted MNS activists to play Hanuman Chalisa if the government or the minority community did not remove loudspeakers by conforming to his deadline.
Without naming the MNS or the BJP, Mr. Walse-Patil said, “Any act or statement which heightens tensions between communities is liable for stern prosecution, be that done by a person or outfit.. The police are fully prepared and was taking care to ensure that such an atmosphere [of heightening communal tensions] will not be created in Maharashtra.”
The Minister stated that he would speak with the Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing officials as well. A decision would soon be taken on the necessary precautions to be in place to preclude any untoward incidents, he remarked.
When asked when the State government would issue general guidelines on the loudspeaker issue, he observed that a notification would be forthcoming once a meeting between the Director General of Police and the Mumbai Commissioner of Police was over.
“We will speak with the Chief Minister [Uddhav Thackeray] again after this meeting and then take a final decision on this matter,” .he noted
Raj Thackeray’s security
Commenting on the MNS’ “intransigence” of removing loudspeakers before May 3, he pointed out that things did not work merely because someone demanded something and that the party might have followed due procedure and engaged in discussion before making such announcement.
When asked about the Centre reportedly increasing Mr. Raj Thackeray’s security cover, he said it was amusing that security was being provided by the Central government to some people bypassing the State government. “I feel it’s an encroachment of the State government’s rights. The State government is more than capable of protecting all its people,” he added.
As a preventive measure, the Nashik police on Monday issued orders prohibiting the playing of Hanuman Chalisa or bhajans on loudspeakers 15 minutes before and after the offering of “‘azaan” and within a 100 metre-radius of the mosque premises.