'Hanuman Chalisa used as a weapon by Navneet and Ravi Rana': Prosecution tells court

The court is expected to decide the bail applications on Monday

Bhavna Uchil | Updated on: Saturday, April 30, 2022, 11:12 PM IST

Hanuman Chalisa used as a weapon by Navneet and Ravi Rana: Prosecution tells court | FPJ
Hanuman Chalisa used as a weapon by Navneet and Ravi Rana: Prosecution tells court | FPJ

Mumbai: The threat to recite the Hanuman Chalisa was used as a weapon by independent legislator couple MP Navneet Rana and MLA Ravi Rana, the prosecution argued before a special MP/MLA court on Saturday.

The court was hearing the bail pleas of the couple arrested for their bid to recite the Hanuman Chalisa before CM Uddhav Thackeray’s residence Matoshree.

The prosecution defended the charge of sedition slapped on them and cited a TV interview in which Navneet Rana had challenged the government to stop her if it has the guts. “What politeness... Look at their behaviour...Is this not a challenge to the government? This is the ingredient for 124A (sedition),” it was pointed out.

Special Public Prosecutor Pradip Gharat argued, “Nowadays Hinduism has become a key word in India. Not just Hanuman Chalisa, but even Hinduism is used as a card.” He added that Hinduism is such a card that if it is used then the government of Maharashtra can be trapped.

“The (state) government is not pursuing the cause of a single religion. The opposition just wants to show that the present government, the Shiv Sena, has changed its stand toward Hinduism…So if that is shown then it will collapse. This is not mere innocent reading of Hanuman Chalisa,” the prosecutor asserted.

Referring to the words used by them, he called these “most objectionable”. They said ‘Uddhav Thackeray hijra hai, Sainik hijre hain’. When these types of comments are made, he asked if it cannot be said that the Ranas provoked and instigated, and a law and order problem was created.

Counsel Abad Ponda, appearing for the Ranas, argued that what is sought to be punished is an idea that is connected with someone’s religious beliefs. “Where everyone is Hindu here and someone just wants to recite (the hymn)...It is not their case that they wanted to use a loudspeaker to chant the Hanuman Chalisa.” he argued, adding that reading Hanuman Chalisa outside a mosque will have different repercussions and pointed out that the CM himself is a staunch Hindu.

He drew parallels between the act of reciting the hymn and a scene in Hindi film ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’. “We just want to criticise the government…this is like the Munnabhai film where a rose is given and not a sword,” Ponda said.

Referring to the video of Indians reciting the hymn at London bridge, he said, “Hanuman Chalisa was read on London bridge...People are peacefully reading it...But in your own place you cannot recite it!”

Ponda said, “In a lighter vein, if the topmost leader of the state had said ‘Come and I will also read the Hanuman Chalisa’, what would have happened? Nothing! He would have got a populist vote that he is such a great Hindu.” The court is expected to decide the bail applications on Monday.

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Published on: Saturday, April 30, 2022, 11:59 PM IST