May 22, 2022 11:25:38 am
Pune police have given the nod to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray’s rally, scheduled to take place at Ganesh Kala Krida Rang Manch later today, under 13 specific conditions. These include directions to speakers at the rally to refrain from making any provocative statements or comments hurting communal sentiments, while those attending the rally have been asked to avoid chanting slogans or taking out vehicle rallies before or after the event.
Police commissioner Amitabh Gupta said over 200 officials and constabulary have been deployed for Sunday morning’s rally. The State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) has also been additionally deployed.
A senior officer with Pune city police said, “Necessary police deployment has been made in and around the auditorium and surrounding areas. Separate arrangements have been made for parking. Traffic police teams have been deployed to ensure that there is no hindrance to the routine traffic flow. We are keeping a close watch on all the activities.”
Thackeray had earlier announced the rally at the Deccan riverbed but the venue was changed owing to the possibility of rains. MNS office-bearers said supporters numbering a few thousand would attend the rally. They added that among several issues, Thackeray is expected to talk about his Ayodhya visit.
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The MNS chief had recently upped the ante by launching a campaign against the use of loudspeakers for azaan, the Muslim call for prayer, and by announcing a visit to the new Ram temple being built in Ayodhya. The visit was opposed by BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh who announced that Thackeray will not be allowed to enter Ayodhya town unless he apologises to north Indians for his violent campaign against them in 2008. Later, Thackeray announced that the plan was put on hold.
Commissioner Gupta had on Saturday held a meeting with office-bearers of major political parties in the city and had appealed to them to carry out their activities peacefully so as to maintain the law and order situation in the city. Office-bearers of BJP, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Shiv Sena, MNS and other parties attended the meeting, which was called in the wake of recent clashes between political parties in the city. Last Monday, a scuffle broke out between BJP and NCP workers during a book release event at the Bal Gandharva Ranga Mandir, attended by Union Minister Smriti Irani.
Thackeray had earlier given May 3 as the ‘deadline’ for removing loudspeakers from mosques across the state. He further asked party workers to play the Hanuman Chalisa outside mosques from May 4 if loudspeakers were not removed. The situation in Pune remained peaceful with many mosques opting not to use loudspeakers, while others lowered its volume during azaan. MNS workers, by and large, cooperated with the directions issued by the police.
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