NEW DELHI: The Hanuman Chalisa controversy in Mumbai continued for the second straight day on Sunday. A holiday court today sent independent MP Navneet Rana and her MLA husband Ravi Rana to 14-day judicial custody following their arrest on Saturday evening. Several Shiv Sena workers were also arrested for staging protests outside the Rana couple’s residence.
Here’s a round-up of the recent developments …
Ranas sent to 14-day judicial custody
A holiday magistrate has sent the politician couple in judicial remand, rejecting Mumbai police’s demand for their custody, an official said.
Navneet and Ravi Rana were arrested after high drama on Saturday after their announcement to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s residence in Mumbai.
The city police had arrested the couple for allegedly “creating enmity between different groups”.
Both of them were on Sunday produced before a court in Bandra which sent them to judicial custody for 14 days, public prosecutor Pradip Gharat said.
“Charges under IPC Section 124-A (sedition) are made out against them as they had challenged the government machinery and made remarks against chief minister Uddhav Thackeray,” the prosecutor said.
The court will hear their bail application on April 29, he added.
While Navneet Rana will be sent to the Byculla women’s jail, her husband will be taken to the Arthur Road jail, the official said.
13 Sena workers arrested, later released
Meanwhile, 13 Shiv Sena workers were arrested on Sunday for allegedly protesting outside the Khar residence of the Ranas the previous day. The party workers were later released on bail, police said.
The police also registered an FIR against an unidentified person for allegedly hurling stones at the car of former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya near Khar police station on Saturday night, when he had gone to meet the Ranas following their arrest.
Shiv Sena supporters, who had gathered outside the police station, protested against Somaiya’s visit and shouted slogans. While he was leaving the police station in an SUV, some protesters hurled footwear and water bottles at his vehicle.
Talking about the arrest of the 13 Sena workers, a police official said, “They were held for allegedly creating ruckus outside the residence of Ranas in suburban Khar. All the arrested persons are accused of playing a key role in the protest on Saturday. Search is on for other protesters.”
Meanwhile, talking about the alleged attack on him, Somaiya claimed that it was “sponsored by the Uddhav Thackeray government”.
BJP backs Ranas, slams MVA government
Coming out in defence of the Independent lawmaker couple, the BJP on Sunday accused the state’s MVA government of having hatred for the Hindu faith.
Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters, party spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia defended the Ranas and recited few couplets from the Hanuman Chalisa.
Dubbing the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi dispensation as “Maha Vasooli” (extortionist) government, Bhatia said in Maharshtra if somebody chants the Hanuman Chalisa the government slaps a sedition case against them.
“In India we can proudly chant Hanuman Chalisa. Since when it has become treason to chant it? The state government has hatred towards faith of Hindus,” Bhatia said.
‘Prez rule should be imposed’
Former Maharashtra chief minister and senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said that people of the state feel there should be President’s rule in the state.
Though Fadnavis made it clear that BJP will not demand President’s Rule in the state, his party colleague and Union minister Narayan Rane said the same should be imposed as the state government has failed to maintain law and order and indulged in the “politics of revenge”.
Their comments came in response to the attack on Somaiya’s car by Sena supporters as well as the arrest of the Rana couple.
Speaking to reporters in Pune on Sunday, Fadnavis said, “We will take up with the Union home secretary the issue of Mumbai police’s failure to protect Somaiya, who enjoys ‘Z’ category security cover. Either the Mumbai police indirectly supported the act (of attack on Somaiya’s car) or they have become inefficient to take any step against the attackers”.
(With inputs from PTI)