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Shiv Sainiks, who thrashed ex-Navy officer in Mumbai, get bail

At least four Shiv Sainiks, who were arrested for assaulting a retired Indian Navy officer for allegedly forwarding a cartoon on Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, were released on bail in Mumbai on Saturday, officials said. The incident adds fuel to the pit fire of trouble that Shiv Sena is already in, being locked in a verbal spat with Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut.

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, at around 4 PM, when a group of around 8-10 persons, all allegedly Shiv Sainiks, came and assaulted Sharma in his society compound. The 65-year-old suffered serious injuries in the attack and is being treated in a private hospital in Mumbai.

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 social security personnel.

With red and swollen eyes, though Sharma apparently escaped serious injuries, he managed to reach home soon afterward 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 the Indian Penal Code, including for unlawful assembly and rioting, said Additional Commissioner of Police (North) Dilip Sawant.

By late evening, politics intensified in the matter. 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.

Actress Kangana Ranaut also reacted to the entire matter. Kangana said that the terror of the government in Maharashtra and torture continues to grow day by day.