Sena says protests not called off, Kasuri reaches venue safely 

Sudheendra Kulkarni (L) said Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch event would go ahead as planned. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury  

Continuing to defend the >black ink attack on former BJP leader Sudheendra Kulkarni, the Shiv Sena has said the party’s protests against former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri will continue, and the agitation has not been called off.

“Message is going around that we have withdrawn our protest. This is a blatant lie. Shiv Sena has not called off the protest. Shiv Sena has opposed normal ties with Pakistan for a long time, and our stand remains unchanged,” senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said at a media conference 90 minutes before the scheduled launch of Kasuri’s memoir.

Mr. Raut said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has told the organisers that anti-India statements and propaganda will not be tolerated, and warned that if such statements are made, the state will take action against the organisers. “We welcome this statement and expect strong action from the CM,” he said.

Attacking Kasuri and describing Mr Kulkarni, the chairperson of Observer Research Foundation (ORF), as “Pakistani agent”, Mr Raut said “Mr Kasuri has been pretending that he is a messenger of peace. He has been supporting Hurriyat Conference and Kashirimi separatists. We have written a letter to CM providing him evidence of his anti-India statements. Chief Minister should intervene, and prevail upon the organisers to cancel the programme.”

Questioning the hype around Mr Kasuri’s book launch, Mr Raut said “If anyone condemns our actions, let them condemn. They should go and visit the families of our martyred jawans and see their misery. This is not Sena’s political agenda, and there is no personal gain for the party. Our agenda is patriotic. Can we give status of ‘athithi devo bhava’ to those who kill our soldiers? Should we treat those who attack our Parliament, kill innocents in 26/11 attacks as our guests?”

Mr Raut repeatedly refused to answer if Sena will stage a protest to disrupt the book launch. “Our intense opposition continues. We did not inform the media when the morning’s incident. So, wait and watch,” Mr Raut said, indicating that Sena was likely to stage more protests.

Meanwhile, Mr Kasuri reached the book launch venue safely under heavy police protection. Historian AG Noorani, actor Naseeruddin Shah, and senior journalist Dileep Padagaonkar, who has served as Kashmir interlocutor,  will participate in a panel discussion moderated by Mr Kulkarni after the launch of Kasuri’s memoir.

(Video: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury )

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 7:14:48 PM |

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