MUMBAI: Hours before the launch of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book in Mumbai today, organizer Sudheendra Kulkarni was attacked with black paint by activists of the Shiv Sena. The party wanted the event cancelled, NDTV reported.
At least 10 to 15 Shiv Sena activists attacked Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was orgainsing the launch of the book, titled “Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy”.
“When I got out of home, a group of Shiv Sainiks ─ some 10, 15 of them ─ stopped my car. When I came out, they smeared my entire body with black oil paint, shouted slogans and said ‘we had ordered you to cancel the programme, you didn’t listen to us, and this is what we’ll do’. They abused me,” he said.
The former BJP advisor’s face was completely blackened and his clothes, in the colours of the Indian flag, were stained too. Addressing a press conference with Mr Kasuri about two hours later, Mr Kulkarni had not washed up. The show will go on, he vowed, holding up the book along with the Pakistani leader for a preview.
The Sena, which co-governs Maharashtra with the BJP, says that it will not allow Mr Kasuri’s book launch and that any engagement with Pakistan is unacceptable as long as it supports terror.
“This is not ink but the blood of our jawans. Intellectuals should consider people’s sentiment or such incidents will happen. We have no grudge against Mr Kasuri but we are against Pakistan,” said Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut.
Last week, the party’s objections cancelled Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s show in Delhi.
The Aam Aadmi Party in a statement released on Monday said that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has failed to provide law and order in the state capital.
“BJP’s coalition partner Shiv Sena has started a reign of cultural terrorism in Mumbai akin to the Taliban. They threatened the organizers of the Ghulam Ali show and got it cancelled a few days back. Today they have attacked Sudheendra Kulkarni, the Chairperson of Observer Research Foundation which is hosting a book launch event at the Nehru Centre in Worli on Monday,” it said.
“Despite the Chief Minister’s so called assurance of protection, Kulkarni was attacked outside his house and his face was blackened. Mumbai police should have taken cognizance of the threat and should have registered cases against all those who has issued the threat. The Aam Aadmi Party has been demanding the FIRs should be registered against the Shiv Sena leaders who are threatening the law and order situation in the state but the police & government have failed to act,” said the party.
As the incident got viral on social media, condemnation poured in from Indian cinema industry as Mahesh Bhatt and Shabana Azimi took to twitter.
Actor Rishi Kapoor tweeted, “Excuse me! This is ridiculous and unpardonable. And to address a media conference in this manner? Politics!”
Azmi further said that she has met Shiv Sina in person and that he is a nice person. She urged that ‘negotiations’ should be the tool to handle this situation.