The police in Maharashtra on Monday arrested 17 Shiv Sena workers from Pandharpur town in Solapur district for allegedly assaulting a Bharatiya Janata Party worker, reported The Indian Express. They were later granted bail.
“We identified the 17 persons and placed them under arrest today [Monday],” Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Pandharpur, Vikram Kadam, said. “They were produced before a court in the afternoon and were sent to judicial custody. Their lawyer then applied for bail which was granted by the local court following which they have been released on bail.”
The BJP member, Shirish Katekar, was beaten up by the Shiv Sena workers on Saturday after he made some comments about Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Angered by the comments, Shiv Sena workers poured ink on Katekar’s clothes, put a garland of bangles around his neck and tried making him wear a saree. They also allegedly threatened to kill him if he made any more derogatory remarks about Thackeray.
As the video of the incident went viral on social media, the Pandharpur Police registered a first information report against the assailants on charges of voluntarily causing hurt by using dangerous weapons, rioting, defamation and intimidation, among other sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Kadam said that on Friday, Katekar had gone to the electricity office to protest, seeking power bills across the state be waived off for the period of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
In his speech, the BJP worker had said that Thackeray was unfit to rule the state, reported the Hindustan Times. Katekar also said Thackeray had earlier claimed that he would make an ordinary party worker the chief minister but later assumed power himself. The video of his speech also reportedly went viral on social media.
Shiv Sena leader Purshottam Barde blamed Katekar for provoking the party workers. “It was Katekar who used objectionable words against our chief,” Barde said. “For Sena workers, Uddhavji is a revered figure and we will not tolerate anything said against him. We take responsibility for this attack and are ready to go to jail for our action.”
The BJP said that the incident was a classic example of “jungle raj”. “Anyone who criticises them [Shiv Sena] has to face [the] music as Sena workers have become arrogant and bash up their opponents even in the presence of police personnel,” said BJP legislator Ram Kadam, according to Hindustan Times. “They know that the administration is not going to act against them.”
Shiv Sena workers had in September beaten up a retired Indian Navy officer for allegedly sharing a satirical cartoon of Thackeray.