At least four Shiv Sainiks arrested for assaulting a retired Indian Navy officer for allegedly forwarding a cartoon on Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, were released on bail.
The victim, Madan Sharma, 65, is a resident of Lokhandwala Complex in Kandivali east, who had reportedly forwarded a cartoon showing Thackeray prostrating before pictures of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar, on a WhatsApp group of his society members.
The incident happened on Friday afternoon when a group of around 8-10 persons, all allegedly Shiv Sainiks, came and assaulted Sharma in his society compound.
The Shiv Sainiks, including a Shakha Pramukh Kamlesh Kadam, found the cartoon objectionable, stormed inside Sharma’s complex and attacked him, said an official of Samata Nagar Police Station here.
Earlier, though nobody from the society had reacted to the cartoon, someone had forwarded it to Kadam, his medico daughter Dr. Sheela Sharma said.
A CCTV clip of the society posted by local Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Atul Bhatkalkar shows the attackers chasing Sharma, dragging him by the collar, pulling his shirt and attacking with no intervention from the society security personnel.
With red and swollen eyes, though Sharma apparently escaped serious injuries, he managed to reach home soon afterwards and then went to the police station to lodge a complaint, even as several BJP leaders slammed the government for the incident.
The police late on Friday arrested four persons — Kadam, Sanjay Manjare, Rakesh Belvekar and Pratap Soond — who were granted bail Saturday afternoon.
The four and some other unknown attackers have been charged under various sections of Indian Penal Code, including for unlawful assembly and rioting, said Additional Commissioner of Police (North) Dilip Sawant.
Several BJP leaders, including Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis slammed the Sena and ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government for the attack, and demanded stringent action against the perpetrators.
The assault continued to reverberate in the political arena as Defence Minister Rajnath Singh condemned the attack and called up the victim to wish him a speedy recovery.
Rajnath called up retired Chief Petty Officer Madan Sharma, 65, to enquire after his health in the wake of Friday’s attack even as the four accused arrested in the case were bailed out on Saturday.
“Such attack on ex-servicemen is completely unacceptable and deplorable,” Singh tweeted.
Following Sharma’s complaint, the Samata Nagar police late on Friday arrested four accused — Shiv Sena Shakha Pramukh Kamlesh Kadam and his accomplices Sanjay Manjare, Rakesh Belvekar, and Pratap Soond.
Additional Commissioner of Police (North) Dilip Sawant said that they were booked on various charges, including unlawful assembly and rioting.
Sainik Federation President, Brig Sudhir Sawant (retd) dubbed the incident “highly condemnable”, saying the members will discuss it at an online meeting on Sunday before deciding their future course of action.
The state government also came under fire from Leaders of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis (Assembly) and Pravin Darekar (Council), besides other leaders who urged the government to “stop goonda raj”. (IANS)