Six Shiv Sainiks held after ink attack on Kulkarni

Mumbai police said today (Tuesday) they had arrested six members of the Shiv Sena over an ink attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni who organised the launch of a former Pakistani foreign minister's book in the city.

As he left his Mumbai home on Monday, Kulkarni had ink thrown on him by a group of activists from the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party, in the latest apparent attack on free speech in the country.

"We have arrested six men, they are all Shiv Sainiks and have been released on bail," Mumbai Police Deputy Commissioner Dhananjay Kulkarni told AFP.

Kulkarni condemned the incident as an "assault on democracy" as he addressed the media in Mumbai on Monday, his face and hair covered in ink.

The launch of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's book Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider's Account of Pakistan's Foreign Policy later passed without incident.

The Shiv Sena, a junior partner in a ruling coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Maharashtra state government, was last week accused of using threats to force the cancellation of an appearance in Mumbai by Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali.

There are growing concerns over freedom of speech in India after the execution-style killing in August of M M Kalburgi, a leading secular scholar who had angered hardline Hindu groups.

Shiv Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut described the ink attack as a "non-violent protest".

(See: Alliance shaken: Sena to go it alone in civic polls)