The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on Friday suspended its south Mumbai Up-Vibhag chief Vinod Argyle after a video showing him abusing, pushing and assaulting a woman shopkeeper sparked an uproar.
Senior MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar said that he was 'disturbed' after seeing the videos of the incident on Thursday, and said MNS President Raj Thackeray has always advocated respect for women.
"Despite similar strict instructions to the party workers, this incident has occurred and I apologise on behalf of the MNS," said Nandgaonkar in a statement on Friday evening.
He said the party has taken a tough view of this and suspended Argyle and further steps will be taken after the party conducts its own probe into the incident.
The shocking incident, in which Argyle was seen abusing, pushing, dragging and assaulting the woman shopkeeper, Parkash Devi, till she fell on the pavement, sparked a massive furore in the state political circles.
Shiv Sena women leaders like Manisha Kayande, ex-Mayor Kishori Pednekar, Nationalist Congress Party's Chief Spokesperson Mahesh Tapase, Maharashtra State Council for Women President Rupali Chakankar and others had slammed the MNS and demanded stringent police action against the perpetrators, and an apology from Raj Thackeray.
After registering a non-cognisable complaint on the August 28 incident, the Nagpada Police finally lodged a complaint and detained three persons, Vinod Argyle, Satish Lad and Raju Argyle and further investigations are underway.
The woman apparently earned the ire of the MNS activists after she steadfastly objected to their putting up a Ganeshotsav advertising banner outside her shop without her permission.
Earlier, the woman reportedly told the MNS workers to "go and hang the banner outside Raj Thackeray's home" and Argyle claimed she even abused them outside her medical shop.
In the video of the incident that went viral on Thursday, the woman and the MNS activists were seen in a heated argument, and as she kept refusing Argyle pulled her, then pushed her, gave her a powerful punch in the tummy, and again shoved her as she fell on the pavement.
Later, Argyle contended that the woman had abused him but said he was sorry for assaulting her.
The social media expressed outrage over how so many people mutely took photos or videos of the incident instead of stopping the political lumpens or rushing to the aid of the woman resisting them alone.
(With inputs from IANS)