A Shiv Sena leader and five others, who were in arrested in connection with the attack on a retired naval officer in Mumbai, have been given bail. The retired officer was beaten on Friday allegedly by workers of Maharashtra's ruling Shiv Sena for forwarding a cartoon mocking Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
All the six accused, including Kamlesh Kadam, a local Sena leader, were arrested by Mumbai Police overnight after a case was registered. According to the police, the Supreme Court order empowering the police station to release an accused on bail from police station itself in matters where maximum punishment is seven years or less was exercised in granting them bail.
Madan Sharma, 65, was attacked near his home in Mumbai's Kandivalli East. Images posted online showed him with wounds on his face and a bloodshot eye.
Mr Sharma, in his complaint, said he had forwarded the cartoon to his residential society's WhatsApp group. He later received a call from Kamlesh Kadam, who asked his name and address. In the afternoon, he was called outside the building and was attacked by a group of men.
Security footage that is being widely shared shows the former officer being thrashed by men, mostly wearing masks.
He is seen walking to the main gate of his apartment building and after a few moments, running back inside with a group of men chasing him. They drag him by his shirt and are seen punching him.
"Eight to ten persons attacked and beat me up today (Friday) after I received threatening calls for a message that I had forwarded. I have worked for the nation my entire life. A government like this should not exist," Madan Sharma told news agency ANI on Friday.
Dr Sheela Sharma, daughter of the former officer, told NDTV, "We don't know how the photo reached the Shiv Sena. We want strict action. The accused shouldn't have got bail in this way. Police personnel had come to our house and spoke of a probe on us. I oppose this bail."
Several BJP leaders, including former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, posted a photo of an injured Madan Sharma.
"Extremely sad and shocking incident. Retired Naval Officer got beaten up by goons because of just a whatsApp forward. Please stop this GundaRaj Uddhav Thackeray ji. We demand strong action and punishment to these goons (sic)," Mr Fadnavis tweeted.
The BJP's Pravin Darekar, Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, met Mr Sharma in hospital today. "This is another face of Shiv Sena. They (accused) got bail because of Shiv Sena," he told NDTV.