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Ex-Navy veteran, who was assaulted by Shiv Sena workers, joins BJP

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 15 September 2020, 15:19 IST

Against a background of criticism over the attack on a retired naval officer in Mumbai by Shiv Sena party workers, the Congress, which is one of Shiv Sena’s allies in Maharashtra, claimed a Member of Parliament from the BJP had planned an assault on the veteran four years ago and questioned BJP’s “double standards” on the matter.

BJP leaders had criticised the Maharashtra government for the attack on the navy veteran, with former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis appealing to CM Uddhav Thackeray to end the ‘goonda raj’ in the state.

Congress leader Sachin Sawant has claimed that in 2016, an army veteran, Sonu Mahajan, was assaulted by the orders of BJP MP Unmesh Patil in Maharashtra’s Chalisgaon area.

“The then BJP government did not register an FIR (first information report) and in fact hounded him. Mahajan had to approach the high court to get the case registered. The BJP has not taken any action against Patil. In contrast to that, our government (Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi) booked the accused and arrested them in the present case,” stated Sawant.

The Army veteran Sonu Mahajan in a recorded message talked about harassment by the BJP leader.

“Despite being attacked by Unmesh Patil’s men, I was locked up in prison. It was finally in 2019 that I was able to get the case registered on the orders of the high court. However till date, no action has been taken against Patil or his men who attacked me,” said Mahajan.

The Bharatiya Janata Party was quick to reject the allegations and termed it baseless. “Why didn’t the Congress raise this issue all these years? Even the FIR filed in the Madan Sharma (the retired naval officer) case was an eye-wash as all the accused got bail within no time,” said BJP’s Atul Bhatalkar.

Previously, Sharma was assaulted by six Shiv Sena workers in Kandivli after he allegedly shared a cartoon mocking Uddhav Thackeray. The BJP led the onslaught calling the incident “state-sponsored terrorism”. On Saturday, Union defence minister Rajnath Singh had spoken to telephonic conversation with Sharma and later tweeted that “attacks on servicemen were deplorable and unacceptable”.

The Shiv Sena, however, said it was not right to drag the party into this issue.

“The workers did not take permission from us. However at the same time, it was wrong to provoke people as they have high respect for their leaders,” said Sanjay Raut.

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First published: 15 September 2020, 14:38 IST