Local police on Tuesday charged Dhananjay Desai, head of the rightwing group Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS), with the murder of 28-year-old IT worker Mohsin Shaikh.
Shaikh’s murder at the hands of a mob followed violent protests that broke out in the city last month over morphed pictures of Chhatrapati Shivaji and late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray that went viral on social media. Shaikh, according to the police, was not involved in uploading the offensive images on Facebook.
Shaikh, sporting a beard and a green Pathani kurta, was returning home on the evening of June 2 when around 25 members of the HRS came on bikes and beat him up with hockey sticks and stones at Hadapsar on the outskirts of Pune.
Speaking to Hindustan Times over phone, joint commissioner of police Sanjay Kumar confirmed the arrest of Desai for murder. Desai was previously in judicial custody on charges of making inflammatory speeches and disturbing communal harmony.
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“The arrest was made at 7 pm,” said Gopinath Patil, assistant police commissioner and investigating officer in the case. Police have already arrested 19 suspects linked to HRS.
Desai, 34, is believed to have developed radical Hindu views at an early age of 14 when he formed a right-wing group based in Pune. Within a few years, Desai and his group began launching minor protests on issues related to so called injustice towards his faith.
Desai faces as many as 20 cases lodged at various police stations in Pune. Those cases relate mostly to rioting and making inflammatory speeches.
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While Home Minister RR Patil said on Monday that investigators have identified those behind circulating the morphed images on social networking sites, senior police officials in Pune chose not to comment.