India arrests after Muslim man beaten to death by hardline Hindus

Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh worked in the IT department of a textile firm. Officials say he did nothing to provoke the attack.

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Police in India say they have arrested 17 members of a hardline Hindu group after a Muslim man was beaten to death in the western city of Pune.

Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh, 28, was stopped by a group of men on Monday night and beaten with rods and sticks.

The attackers were angry over some "distorted" images of the 17th Century warrior king Shivaji and late Shiv Sena party leader Bal Thackeray on Facebook.

Officials say he was innocent and simply got up caught in clashes.

"Shaikh was returning home after prayers on Monday night when he was stopped by a group of about a dozen men who assaulted him brutally," senior police officer Manoj Patil told BBC Hindi.

"The attackers were accusing him of posting offensive photos on Facebook. When police reached the scene, the attackers had run away. Shaikh was taken to hospital, but he died from his injuries.

"There is no doubt that this was a case of religious hate crime," Mr Patil added.

He said the arrested men belonged to the Hindu Rashtra Sena (Hindu National Army), a small radical Hindu group.

At the weekend, police said there were clashes in Pune and other cities of Maharashtra state over the offensive images on Facebook. The images were later removed.

Officials said Shaikh, who worked in the IT department of a textile firm, was not involved in any way.

"Shaikh had no connection with these images. Police have arrested all the accused and we will take strict action against them," Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil said.

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