Mumbai, Oct 12: Former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri’s scheduled book launch in Mumbai snowballed into a major controversy after regional political force Shiv Sena left no stone unturned to get the event cancelled. Despite repeated threats by the far-right group to tear apart the event in its trademark style, the much-awaited book launch underwent without hindrance. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, not only provided ‘full security’, but also tried to persuade Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to call off the protest.
Despite Shiv Sena failing to intimidate the organizers as it did to frighten the music concert of Ghulam Ali, it succeeded in attracting media glare by physically attacking one of the prime organizers – Sudheendra Kulkarni, the Mumbai unit chief of think tank Observation Research Foundation (ORF). Interestingly, Kulkarni has also served as an active member of the BJP during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure, and is a respected name within the saffron ranks.
(ALSO READ: Sudheendra Kulkarni assault: It is time to stop Shiv Sena brand of politics)
Here are the 10 latest developments:
1. In the early hours of the day, Shiv Sainiks cornered Sudheendra Kulkarni outside his residence. Kulkarni was heckled and smeared with black ink.
2. Showing no remorse on the goondaism exhibited by his party workers, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, ““They (Shiv Sainiks) smeared the organizers with black ink. It was a very mild reaction. This is nothing compared to what will be done if the event is not called off.”
3. At the centre of controversy, Khurshid Kasuri reacted to the ink attack on Kulkarni. He compared Shiv Sena with ultra-nationalistic forces in his state. “I am deeply saddened by the attack. Fringe groups in India and Pakistan do not desire good relation between the two countries.”
4. Sudheendra Kulkarni lashed out at Shiv Sena for orchestrating the violent attack on him. “I am not disturbed and depressed by their actions. If I show fear and call off the event, then those who want to curb our freedom will succeed. Such intolerant forces will get a befitting reply. We will hold the book launch as planned.”
5. Shiv Sena’s youth wing leader Aditya Thackeray justified the attack on Kulkarni calling it ‘non-violent’, ‘democratic’ and ‘historic’. “Let’s not even compare the ink shed on a person who has openly lauded a Naxal sympathiser and endorsed a foreign minister having links with anti-India separatists from the valley, to the bloodshed in our country by terrorists,” said Aditya, who is the son of Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray.
6. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis intervened in the matter by approaching discussing the contentious issue with Uddhav Thackeray. In a telephonic discussion, Fadnavis attempted to persuade Sena chief to withdraw the agitation.
7. Subsequently, Shiv Sena held a press conference putting a forward its conditions to the Maharashtra government before calling off the protests. They demanded immediate the Maharashtra chief minister to show sensitivity towards the martyred Indian soldiers and immediately call off the event. Another condition imposed by the Shiv Sena was that the event should not be used to spread any sort of anti-India propaganda.
8. Defying the threats of Shiv Sena, the book launch underwent as planned. Former Pakistan minister Kasuri said: “This book brings a fresh perspective to Indo-Pak bilateral issues and underlines the fact that only a non-military solution can resolve the hostility. I want to clear misconceptions which exists between the two nations.”
9. Event planner Sudheendra Kulkarni, whose face was blackened earlier in the day by Sena activists lashed out at Uddhav Thackeray. “It is sad that Uddhav Thackeray considers all Pakistanis as anti-Indians,” he said.
10. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) slammed Shiv Sena for its fanatic expression of dissent. It recommended the Hindutva party to shun politics of hatred and destruction.
After receiving unprecedented flak for its unnecessary protest, Shiv Sena struck back saying, “We don’t need advise from anyone. Why should we regret. Our actions are fueled by patriotism.”