Continuing the crackdown on a little known Hindu radical outfit in connection with the brutal murder of a young IT professional in a Pune suburb on Monday, police have arrested four more of its activists, taking the total arrests in the case to 17, official sources said.
The authorities are also mulling invoking the stringent provisions of Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act (MPDAA) making it difficult for them to secure bail, Pune Police Commissioner Satish Mathur said.
Mohasin Shaikh, 28, a resident of Bankar Colony in suburban Hadapsar, was allegedly bludgeoned to death with hockey sticks by a group of Hindu Rashtra Sena men after uploading of an objectionable post on social networking website Facebook by unknown people which denigrated warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji and Shiv Sena chief late Bal Thackeray.
Some media reports said the posts might have originated in a foreign country but there was no official word on it.
Those arrested have been booked under various sections of IPC including murder.
In addition, about 180 persons have been arrested in connection with cases related to the rioting and damaging of city buses in the area in the incidents on Sunday and Monday during the Bandh called to protest against the Facebook post.
Mathur said the role of self-styled chief of HRS Dhananjay Desai in Mohasin's case was under investigation. Desai was arrested in a case filed against him for allegedly circulating inflammatory literature after the violence.
Police are also probing the conspiracy angle to the murder after emergence of an SMS circulated by the accused among themselves which said in Marathi, "Ek wicket geli (one wicket has fallen)."
Asked about the possibility of imposing a ban on HRS, Mathur said such a move needed thorough investigation and documentation of the organisation's activities and cannot be taken in a hurry.
The arrested accused were produced before a magistrate who remanded them in police custody till June 9.
The situation in the area continues to be peaceful with no fresh violence in the last two days, police said. An appeal has been issued to citizens not to circulate or forward provocative messages on social media or spread rumours thorough SMS.
Meanwhile, in a controversial statement, the newly elected BJP MP from Pune Anil Shirole has said though the incident (murder) was "unfortunate" the repercussions of the derogatory post were "natural".
"What happened is unfortunate but after the Facebook post some repercussion was natural," he said, but hastened to add "we are making all efforts for restoring peace in Pune, people there want peace."
Home Ninister R R Patil said strict action will be taken against those responsible for the incident.
"Some people always want to create communal tension. Strict action will be taken against all those responsible," he said in Mumbai.
Offensive anti -Thackeray messages can be posted on the Facebook only by those for whom pre-election riots are beneficial. The Maharashtra BJP, while preparing for the forthcoming state elections, had clearly sought the services of Amit Shah, the victorious strategist in UP elections. Did Amit Shah accept their offer?
The CPI(M) strongly condemns the brutal killing of Mohsin Shaikh by criminals of the Hindu Rashtra Sena in Pune. A delegation of the CPI(M) led by the CPI(M) Maharashtra State Secretary and Central Committee Member, Ashok Dhawale, MLA Raja Ozre and former MLA and Central Committee Member, Narasiah Adam met the Maharastra Home Minister R.R. Patil today on this issue and to protest against the increasing killings of dalits in Maharashtra. A demonstration was held protesting the murder in Mumbai.
PM Modi must condemn Sadique Shaikh’s murder — and repeal draconian Section 66A (TOI)
The brutal bludgeoning to death of Pune-based 28-year-old techie Mohsin Mohamed Sadique Shaikh — his alleged killers belonged to the extremist Hindu Rashtra Sena and were apparently incensed over social media messages they found objectionable — is shocking.
Modi would like his ministers to be active on social networking websites. But this can only work if the general populace has the same right without being subject to arbitrary arrest and even hate crimes. Moreover, zealots may read the BJP victory as a signal to go ahead with such crimes. This interpretation must be nipped in the bud if Modi's development and youth-oriented plans are to succeed, particularly given the communal overtones of Shaikh's murder. Modi, therefore, needs to take a clear stand on the murder.
Shivaji, a warlord or a warrior?