MUMBAI: The office of the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana in Navi Mumbai was stoned by a pro-Maratha outfit calling itself the Sambhaji Brigade, irked by a cartoon published in the daily.
The cartoon published on Sunday mocked the "muk morcha" (silent marches) being taken out by the Maratha community in Maharashtra. It drew flak from many political quarters, including the Shiv Sena's ally, the BJP, the opposition Congress and the NCP.
Marathas have been organising silent marches across the state following the Kopardi rape and murder incident, in which the victim was a member from the community while the alleged perpetrators belonged to a Dalit community.
Police said three youths went in a vehicle to the Saamana printing press at Sanpada in Navi Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon and pelted stones at the building, damaging some windows, and fled.
A group called the Sambhaji Brigade took responsibility for the attack and demanded an apology for the cartoon. "The attack was a spontaneous expression of the emotions of the Maratha community," a spokesman said.
While Congress leaders Ashok Chavan and Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil demanded an apology from the Shiv Sena needs for publishing the cartoon, NCP leader Dhananjay Munde urged the government to take action against Saamana. Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar targeted Shiv Sena MP and executive editor of Saamana, Sanjay Raut and demanded a public apology.
Shiv Sena minister Subhash Desai, who is the publisher of Saamana, said the newspaper has already tendered an apology on its first page on Tuesday.
Meanwhile political pressure is mounting on the Devendra Phadnavis government on the question of a quota for Marathas in Maharashtra. The leader of the opposition in the Legislative Council, Dhananjay Munde alleged that the government is adopting dilatory tactics.
“It’s been more than a month since the Maratha community started its silent protest marches, attracting huge numbers. But the government has not paid heed to their demands. A chargesheet has not been filed against the perpetrators of the Kopardi rape even after three months. On the issue or reservation, the government has promised a group of ministers. But that is just a time-wasting technique,” Munde said.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP Bhalchandra Mungekar opposed the Maratha community’s demand for quotas. “If the Marathas are given reservation, all other communities including Brahmins too would be entitled too,” he said.