Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday apologised for a cartoon in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana that had appeared to mock the protests held by the Maratha community for reservations in Maharashtra. The cartoon published on September 27 had drawn widespread criticism from political leaders and triggered massive protests in the state. Thackeray tweeted in Marathi, “If the cartoon has hurt someone, I am really sorry for it.”

The cartoon showed a man kissing a woman who is holding a placard saying “Mooka Morcha” (kiss protest). The daily said the phrase was a pun on “Mook Morcha” (silent protests), the type of demonstrations being held by the Maratha community. While a few protestors pelted stones at the daily’s office in Navi Mumbai, a separate group threw ink at the door of the paper’s bureau in Thane.

The cartoon was published at a time when thousands of Maratha people have been holding demonstrations and silent rallies across Maharashtra. They have demanded a 16% quota as well as amendments to The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Their protests have also been aimed at the gangrape and murder case of a 14-year-old in Ahmednagar district’s Kopardi village. Marathas have demanded the accused be sentenced to death. State Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said his government is committed to fulfilling the community’s quota demand.