The Mumbai police on Friday told a special court that while on the face of it the plan of Amravati MP Navneet Rana and her MLA husband Ravi Rana to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's residence here may look innocent, but it was in fact a "big plot" to challenge the MVA government.
The police also claimed that the opposition BJP and the political opponents of Thackeray were trying to create an atmosphere to project him as anti-Hindu and not sponsoring the cause of Hinduism, and that in the present regime it was difficult for Hindus to practise their religion freely and thus the feeling of hate would increase against the Muslim religion causing a rift.
The police made these claims in an affidavit filed through special public prosecutor Pradip Gharat opposing the bail pleas of the Rana couple, who were arrested on April 23 on sedition and other charges. Special judge R N Rokade said he would hear the bail pleas on Saturday.
The couple is presently in judicial custody. The police said if released on bail the accused, who are influential persons, would tamper with the evidence or influence witnesses. The police further said that since the accused are not permanent residents of Mumbai, if granted bail they may not be available for the probe and trial. The police in their affidavit claimed that the BJP, which is the opposition party in Maharashtra, has been strongly opposing the administrative policies of the present government and criticising the ruling Shiv Sena for its stand on Hindutva.
They claimed that the BJP was doing so as it was deprived of power after the Shiv Sena formed an alliance with the NCP and the Congress to form a government. "The opposite parties and political opponents of Shiv Sena have clashes on the point of religion. Some political parties and independent political leaders are raising issues and alleging that the chief minister of Maharashtra is against Hindutva and also alleging that the government is sponsoring the cause of other religions," the police said.
The police in their affidavit also rubbished the claims of the Ranas that they only wanted to chant Hanuman Chalisa, which is an act of prayer, and hence it cannot be construed as an offence. "However innocent these pleadings may seem like, the respondent (police) says that these submissions are the most hypocrite as the plan to read Hanuman Chalisa at 'Matoshree', the private residence of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, is a big plot to create a challenge to the law and order situation," the affidavit said.
They added that the plan was intended to cause a collapse of the law and order situation and then seek for dissolution of the present government by the Governor of Maharashtra. "The investigation has revealed that the accused persons who are strong political opponents of the present government have now taken a very smart move to make use of the sacred 'stotra' (religious book)," the police said. "law and order situation of this nature, the accused persons are trying to show that the present state government is not sponsoring the cause of Hinduism and the chief minister is against Hindus," it added.
The police further claimed that criticism, even though strongly worded, should be done within reasonable limits. "However, when the use of words has the pernicious tendency or intention of creating public disorder or disturbance of law and order then the provisions of sedition are attracted," the police said in its affidavit.
They added that when words are spoken with an intention to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the government and Constitution of India, or to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of citizens, then the provision of sedition is made out. The police further said that the Ranas did not pay heed to the notice issued to them on April 22, requesting them to not go to the chief minister's residence.
The accused created feelings of hatred, enmity and rivalry amongst the public and the serious offence of sedition was made out against them, it added. While Navneet Rana is lodged in Byculla women's prison, her husband, who is MLA from Badnera in eastern Maharashtra, is in Taloja jail in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.