Black paint does not deter Kasuri book launch

Shiv Sena’s need to regain its increasingly threatened political space in Maharashtra appeared to rear its head again on Monday when some cadres smeared black paint on Sudheendra Kulkarni for hosting former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.

Though the Sena shocked Mumbai’s liberal cosmopolitanism by defacing Mr. Kulkarni’s face with oil paint, the Devendra Fadnavis regime showed once again that when the government has adequate will, it is possible to rein in trouble-makers.

Despite fresh threats by the Sena to intensify its protests, Mr. Kasuri’s memoir “Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy” was launched without any further incident. The police escorted Mr. Kasuri to the venue, and threw a three-tier security cover to prevent any further embarrassment to Chief Minister Fadnavis.

Mr. Fadnavis, also the home minister, disapproved of the attack. “We may not agree with somebody’s views, but when a foreign dignitary or a diplomat arrives on a valid visa and holds a programme, it’s the duty of a state to provide protection.”

Former Indian diplomats said incidents such as these tarnished the country’s image, besides hurting the “idea of India.”

Earlier, former BJP leader Kulkarni, the chairperson of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), an international policy think tank, was rendered virtually unrecognisable after some Sena activists stopped his car near his central Mumbai residence around 9.30 a.m., and smeared his face with paint.

Undeterred, Mr. Kulkarni came to ORF’s south Mumbai office, and announced that he would not be cowed down by the attack and would continue with the book launch. The attack came after Mr. Kulkarni met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray late on Sunday night to persuade the Sena to withdraw its agitation.

Six persons, including Sena shakha pramukh Gajanan Patil, were arrested for their alleged role in the attack.

I wanted to pay tribute to Mumbai: Kasuri

Former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri said here on Monday that he was saddened by the blackening of Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of the Observer Research Foundation. “I have come to Mumbai because this is an inclusive city where my father completed his law degree, and I want to pay my tribute to the city. I recognise the right of Shiv Sena to protest as long as it is done in a peaceful manner,” he said.

Dileep Padgaonkar, senior journalist and former Kashmir interlocutor, condemned the incident as a sign of growing intolerance under the NDA regime.

Political commentator Kumar Ketkar saw the attack as a sign of frustration of the Shiv Sena“It is a well-perfected Shiv Sena-style protest to create ruckus, get into headlines, tell its followers that it exists with all its militancy, and then quietly place the tail between the legs,” Mr. Ketkar said.

Journalist-commentator Nikhil Wagle, who has been a target of several Sena-style attacks, congratulated Mr. Kulkarni for not succumbing to Sena ‘hooliganism.’

“We saw that in 2010 when Sena tried to disrupt screenings of Shah Rukh Khan’s film My Name Is Khan, but could not do anything because the Congress-NCP government stood firm, and provided adequate security to cinemas,” Mr. Wagle said.

Shiv Sena’s protests over the years:

  • 1991 Shiv sainiks dig up the Wankhede pitch to prevent Pakistan from playing a match in Mumbai, leading to the series being called off.
  • 1991 Shiv sainiks attack journalist Nikhil Wagle for criticism of Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.
  • 1993 Shiv sainiks attack three journalists. Mumbai media stages a solidarity protest outside Sena Bhavan against the attack
  • 1994 Shiv sainiks vandalise shops selling St Valentine’s Day greeting cards to protest against its commercialisation. Sena protests against St Valentine's Day eventually tapered off.
  • 1995 Shiv Sena protests against Salman Rushdie’s book The Moor’s Last Sigh after it feels a character in the book modelled on Bal Thackeray.
  • 1999 Another contingent of shiv sainiks from part’s Delhi unit damage the Ferozshah Kotla pitch in Delhi to stop an Indo-pak cricket match. India’s 1983 World Cup trophy damaged when sainiks vandalise BCCI’s office at Churchgate in Mumbai.
  • 2004 Shiv Sena stages protests against then Petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar for unsavoury remarks about Veer Savarkar.
  • 2006 Shiv Sena opposes Pakistan’s participation in the Champions Trophy to be played in India.
  • 2010 Shiv Sena targets Shah Rukh Khan for speaking against exclusion of Pakistani cricketers in IPL, threatens to disrupt screenings of My Name is Khan. Cong-NCP government provides adequate security, SRK fans throng theatres, defeating Sena protests.
  • 2010 Shiv Sena protests outside the Bigg Boss house in Lonavala for including two Pakistani celebrities, actress Veena Malik and talk show host Begum Nawazish Ali in the reality show.
  • 2010 Threats of Sena style protests forces Mumbai University to withdraw Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journeyfrom its syllabus after Aaditya Thackeray objected to derogatory references to the party.
  • 2012 Shiv Sena wants a ban on Pakistani singers participating in reality shows, asks Asha Bhosle to withdraw as judge of the show.
  • 2014 Shiv sainiks protests against Pakistani band Mekaal Hasan Band in Mumbai, forcing the cancellation of their concert.
  • 2014 Shiv Sena warns Pro-Kabaddi league organisers not to include Pakistani players. Pak players arrive, but don't play.
  • April 2015 Shiv Sena forces the cancellation of a concert by Atif Aslam concert in Pune.
  • April 2015 Shiv Sena stages protest outside author Shobhaa De’s house in South Mumbai with vada pavs and dahi missal accusing her of tweeting insults to Maharashtrian cuisine after Maharashtra government made it mandatory to screen Marathi films at prime time in multiplexes.
  • Oct 2015 Shiv Sena forces organisers to cancel ghazal singer Ghulam Ali’s tribute to Jagjit Singh.
  • Oct 2015 Shiv Sena blackens former BJP leader Sudheendra Kulkarni’s face for hosting ex Pak foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch and visit to Mumbai.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 8:29:32 AM |

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