(From Press Trust of India)
Unfazed by the Shiv Sena protest and blackening of the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni, the organisers went ahead with the launch of former Pakistan Foreign Minister Ahmed Kasuri’s book ‘Neither a Hawk, Nor a Dove’ at a function in India’s financial capital Mumbai.
The event was held amid tight security for the visiting dignitary in the wake of Shiv Sena’ threat to disrupt the function despite appeals to it to give up its protest.
Kasuri himself echoed the sentiments after the morning’s event outside the house of Kulkarni, Chairman of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), the think-tank and organiser of the book launch show, had left a bad taste when Shiv Sena activists smeared black paint on his face.
“I would like to thank Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for providing excellent protection (provided to him) ever since I landed in Mumbai airport (last evening),” he said at the book launch.
Taking a jibe at Shiv Sena, Kulkarni welcomed the former Pakistan Minister to the megapolis of Mumbai in Marathi.
“I also express my deepest gratitude to all of you who have come to attend the function notwithstanding the extraordinary circumstances in which it is being held.”
Earlier, senior BJP leader L K Advani condemned Sena’s attack on his former aide Kulkarni , saying the incident shows growing intolerance towards viewpoints different from one’s own.
“This morning, I saw on TV my long-time colleague Sudheendra Kulkarni has been attacked. I do not want to name anybody, but such incidents show a growing intolerance towards views that are different from one’s own. I strongly condemn the attack,” Advani said, on the sidelines of a function to release the inaugural issue of the journal Chanakya.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, however, played down the incident saying “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.
Advani’s remarks on growing intolerance towards views other than one’s own is relevant in India where many writers and rationalists are feeling insecure because of threats from certain religious groups.
Recently, as many as 20 writers from different languages across the country returned their literary awards to the Sahitya Akademi to protest communal atmosphere and rising intolerance following the killing of a rationalist M M Kalburgi in Karnataka state. Kalburgi was gunned down for his views on idol worship.
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.