Home Minister Rajnath Singh Saturday reached out to retired Navy man Madan Sharma a day after he was attacked by a group of Shiv Sena workers over a cartoon depicting Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, even as Sena MP and party’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut said the cartoon was “defamatory” and criticised the Opposition for turning it into a political issue.
On Friday, Kandivali East-resident Madan Sharma (65), who had served as a chief petty officer in the Navy, was attacked by a group of Shiv Sena workers, headed by Kamlesh Kadam — the shakha pramukh of the party’s Kandivali unit in Mumbai.
“Spoke to retired naval officer, Shri Madan Sharma who was attacked by hooligans in Mumbai and enquired about his health. Such attacks on ex-servicemen are completely unacceptable and deplorable. I wish Madanji a speedy recovery,” Singh tweeted after speaking to Sharma on Saturday.
Soon after the Home Minister’s tweet, Raut issued a statement saying Maharashtra is governed by the law and the legal action has been taken against the attackers.
“Maharashtra is governed by the law. No matter who takes the law into their own hands, it will not be tolerated. This is the policy of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray… Though the cartoon circulated by that officer on the chief minister was defamatory, the attack on him was an outrageous and spontaneous reaction by the Shiv Sainiks. Still, the attackers were immediately arrested and the legal action was taken. It is unfortunate that the Opposition is making a political issue of the incident. Both sides need to observer patience,” Raut said in the statement.
The six men, including Kadam, who were arrested for the assault on Sharma were released on bail early on Saturday, following which BJP workers staged a protest outside the Additional Commissioner of Police’s office. They were demanded that the six men be also booked under IPC sections 452 (trespassing) and 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means). A section on trespassing was added late on Saturday.
Samta Nagar police, which are investigating the case, said along with sections of assault and rioting, the men have been booked for trespassing as they had illegally entered the building premises to assault Sharma. However, all the sections are bailable, Senior Inspector Raju Kasbe, Samta Nagar police station said.
Earlier in the day, BJP workers, led by Leader of Opposition in state Council Pravin Darekar, Mumbai party chief Mangal Prabhat Lodha and senior MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar held demonstrations. “The Shiv Sena has reverted to its old tactics of intimidating people. Maharashtra is governed by ‘goonda raj’… we will expose their real face,” Darekar said.
Sharma’s daughter Sheela, who also took part in the protest, said, “I am disappointed with the police action. It was a very serious attack. But the culprits got away (bail) easily.”
State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and Joint Commissioner of Police (law and order) Vishwas Nangre Patil, meanwhile, spoke to BJP leaders over phone and assured to take action against the culprits. Patil said the bail was granted to the accused as per rules.
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