Shiv Sainiks throw ink at Kulkarni on Kasuri’s book launch

Mumbai: Shiv Sena activists today allegedly smeared black ink on the face of ORF chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni for organising former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch here.

“Shiv Sena activists threw ink at me and smeared my face. They abused me,” Kulkarni alleged and said that his Observer and Research Foundation (ORF), a foreign policy think-tank, will hold Kasuri’s book launch as planned here later today.

“We won’t be cowed down by such events and the book launch will happen as planned,” the organiser said.

Meanwhile, reacting to the ink attack on 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,” Raut said.

Kasuri is scheduled to attend the launch of his book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy’ in Mumbai. Sena had demanded that the event be scrapped and had threatened to disrupt it.

Maharashtra’s Home department, headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, had, however, assured the organiser of full security.

Kulkarni had met Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at the latter’s residence ‘Matoshree’ here late last night, but left without getting any assurance from him.

He had earlier also said that the event will go on as planned as they have been assured full security by police.

The Shiv Sena had earlier threatened to disrupt Ghulam Ali’s concerts, leading to cancellation of the Pakistani ghazal singer’s events in Mumbai and Pune recently.

“I pointed out to Uddhavji that Kasuri should be allowed to put forth his views. I also told him that if Sena has a different view point, they could protest in a democratic, peaceful manner,” Kulkarni earlier told PTI.

“The Sena president told me that unlike Ghulam Ali, Kasuri was not an artist but was part of the machinery which perpetrated terror,” he said.

“I told Uddhavji that as they (Sena) have a right to protest peacefully, we also have the right to hold the programme,” he said.

“I informed him that Kasuri was Pakistan foreign minister during 2002-07 and was not a minister when the 2008 Mumbai terror attack happened,” he said.

“It was brought to the Sena leader’s attention that Kasuri in his book has criticised non-state actors perpetrating terror,” said Kulkarni, who has served as speechwriter for BJP veterans Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani.

The Sena, which shares power with the BJP in Maharashtra, has written to the director of Worli’s Nehru Centre, the launch venue, to cancel the event because of the Pakistan connection. (PTI)