Shoe hurled at Indian premier during speech

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan SinghNew Delhi - A protestor threw a shoe at Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during an election rally on Sunday, but it landed several feet short of where he was speaking. Singh was addressing the gathering in the western Gujarat state's main Ahmedabad city and was momentarily distracted from his speech as a security personnel ran towards the spot where the shoe was lying.

The guard then kicked and later carried away the white sneaker which had landed about 20 feet away from the podium.

Singh continued his speech as the man, identified as Hitesh Chauhan, a city-based computer engineer in his mid-20s, was whisked away by security personnel.

Local news channels which broadcast images of the incident said Singh had forgiven the youth and asked police not to press charges against the man.

Police officials told the IANS news agency that Chauhan did not belong to any political group but were questioning him to determine the provocation or issue he wanted to protest about.

The NDTV network quoting police sources said Chauhan wanted to grab media publicity by doing so.

Shoe-throwing has become a preferred form of protest in the run-up to the month-long elections in India which began April 16.

This is the fourth occasion when shoes have been hurled at Indian political leaders in the past few weeks.

It all started on April 7, when a journalist lobbed a shoe at India's Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram during a press briefing in national capital New Delhi.

Days later, a retired school principal threw footwear at Congress party candidate Navin Jindal during an election rally in the northern state of Haryana.

Subsequently, a slipper was thrown at Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate LK Advani, by a former party worker.

Sunday's incident was the latest in the series of shoe-attacks on political leaders - shoes have been hurled at former US president George W Bush and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. (dpa)