India leaders cower from 'shoe-cide' attacks

India’s politicians contesting in the general election, fearful of shoes hurled at them by disgruntled voters, have asked for more security and are erecting metal nets at rallies.

Lal Krishna Advani, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate was the latest politician to be at the receiving end on Thursday, as an angry party worker threw a slipper at him during an election meeting in a central state.

The slipper missed Advani, but was enough for authorities to step up security for all leaders across the country.

The incident was the latest episode of shoe-throwing as a mark of protest against political leaders, including former United States President George Bush and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Throwing a shoe at someone is considered an insult in India.

Indian politicians have asked party workers to remove shoes at meetings and alerted police and their security staff to keep a tab on people, including journalists in news conferences.

“The security is extremely tight for politicians, and we are keeping a close watch on everyone,” a Delhi Police spokesperson said.

Last week a Sikh journalist hurled a shoe at India’s home minister during a news conference after getting angry with the minister’s reply to a question about 1984 riots in which hundreds of Sikhs were killed.

Three days later, a retired school teacher threw a shoe at popular Congress lawmaker Naveen Jindal, during an election rally in Haryana state.

Authorities in Gujarat state built an iron safety net to keep flying shoes away, as Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the BJP-ruled state began his speech at a rally this week.

“These are acts of insanity, there is no scope for such acts in India’s political system,” said Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the BJP’s candidate in Bihar state, where the election was held on Thursday.

India’s politicians have not taken the shoe attacks personally and not initiated legal action so far.

“Flying footwear are now the weapons of mass distraction,” was the headline in one such report carried by the Mail Today newspaper on Friday.—Reuters

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