The Shiv Sena has said that it will continue with its protest against former Pakistani Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch event in Mumbai but that the Chief Minister had said that there should be no anti-Pak statement at the event. There were strong protests against the party's attack on event organiser Sudheendra Kulkarni. Mr. Kulkarni had black oil paint thrown on his face outside his home on Monday. Sources said that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had a telephonic conversation with Uddhav Thackeray.
Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut at a press conference said that CM Devendra Fadnavis had spoken to him. Mr. Raut said that Mr.Kasuri has been supporting the Hurriyat Conference and welcoming such a person on a red carpet is disrespecting our nation.
"We should realise who our guests are. Are those who attack our Parliament, launch 26/11 attacks, kill our soldiers on the borders our guests? People like Sudheendra Kulkarni who are inviting such people as guests are traitors," Mr.Raut said. "Pakistani agents like Kulkarni are more dangerous than Kasab (26/11 attacker). We can fight Kasabs, but how do you we fight such hidden Kasabs?" Mr. Raut added.
The Shiv Sena leader said that the protest was not out political agenda of the party but its nationalist agenda. "Those who want to condemn our action are free to do so. They should go and visit the families of our marytred jawans and see their misery," he said.
Mr Raut refused to answer questions on whether Shiv Sena will stage protest at book launch or call it off.
Mr. Kulkarni, chairman of Observer Research Foundation (ORF), said, "Around 10-15 activists of Shiv Sena gheraoed me today morning outside my home. They abused me and called me anti-national and threatened me. They threw black paint on me after abusing me and chanting slogans."
'Event will go ahead as planned'
Mr. Kulkarni and Mr. Kasuri addressed a press conference soon after the incident. The former Pakistan Minister said the incident did not appear to him as a "protest".
"I recognise people's right to protest, but what has happened with Sudheendra Kulkarni is not protest," he said, adding that a 'positive mindset' was needed.
Mr. Kulkarni said the event would go ahead as planned.
Video: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury
Sena justifies act
Meanwhile, reacting to the ink attack on Mr. Kulkarni, senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “smearing ink is a very mild form of democratic protest.” “We don’t know if ink or tar was smeared. Nobody can foretell how public anger will explode,” he said. Mr. Raut threatened to hold a protest demonstration at the venue of the book launch. Aaditya Thackeray, chief of the Yuva Sena, described the attack as 'non-violent'.
The Sena had earlier forced the cancellation of Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s musical tribute to ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh.
Mr. Kulkarni on Sunday held a meeting with Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, seeking his cooperation in organising the programme. However, the outcome of the meeting remained inconclusive.
Mr. Kasuri will launch his memoir, Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy , at the Hall of Culture, Nehru Centre. The launch will be followed by a panel discussion in which historian A.G. Noorani, actor Naseeruddin Shah and senior journalist and former Kashmir negotiator Dileep Padgaonkar are scheduled to participate.
(with inputs from PTI)