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Call to ban outfit under hate crime cloud

Mumbai, June 6: A Rs 5-lakh compensation from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund was announced today for the family of Mohsin Shaikh, the 24-year-old techie bludgeoned to death in Pune apparently by activists of a Hindutva outfit.

State minority affairs minister Arif Naseem Khan had yesterday met state home minister R.R. Patil and demanded a ban on the Hindu Rashtra Sena, 17 of whose alleged members have been arrested over the fatal June 2 attack.

“The home minister assured me that his ministry would seriously look into the demand and send a recommendation to the Centre,” Khan told The Telegraph.

State police are compiling a dossier on the outfit and its founder Dhananjay Desai, who faces 23 cases of making inflammatory speeches and vandalism. Copies of the dossier would be sent to Patil’s ministry and the Union home ministry, which had sought a report yesterday.

“Stringent action will be taken against the culprits, and we will take the necessary steps to protect the interests of the minority community,” a spokesperson for chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s office said.

At Mumbai’s Azad Maidan, several organisations protested the attack on Shaikh and demanded the state government provide a compensation of Rs 15 lakh to his family and ban the Hindu Rashtra Sena.

A group of 20 to 25 men had attacked Shaikh with hockey sticks on Monday night in Pune’s Bankar Colony. The area had been tense since Sunday’s protests by the Shiv Sena and other Right-wing outfits against certain social media posts on Shivaji and Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray.

Shaikh, who the police say had nothing to do with the posts and was targeted because of his beard, died of his injuries in hospital on Tuesday.

Minority affairs minister Khan said the Hindu Rashtra Sena “has been involved in several such incidents in the past, and has been active in disturbing communal harmony in several parts of the state”.

“It has killed an innocent IT professional now, and a ban should be imposed on it,” he added.

Among the outfits that condemned the attack today were the Democratic Youth Federation of India, All India Secular Forum, Federation of Minorities, All India Milli Council, Movement for Human Justice, and the Forum for Communalism Combat.