MUMBAI: At least 10 to 15 Shiv Sena activists attacked Sudheendra Kulkarni, organiser of former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch, hours before event, NDTV reported.
“When I got out of home, a group of Shiv Sainiks some 10, 15 of them stopped my car. When I came out, they smeared my entire body with black oil paint, shouted slogans and said ‘we had ordered you to cancel the programme, you didn’t listen to us, this is what we’ll do’. They abused me,” he said.
The organiser of the programme said he had earlier told Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray that the programme will not be cancelled. “We respect your right to protest peacefully, you should respect our right to hold the programme. We are not doing anything unlawful,” he told NDTV.
Kulkarni said the government has assured security for Kasuri and the programme.
“We are profusely thankful to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra who has taken a very disciplined and firm stand against these kinds of threats,” he said.
He added, “We are going to go ahead with the programme, we are not going to be deterred by these things.”
Kulkarni and Kasuri held a joint press conference following the incident,NDTV reported. The organiser welcome the former minister, thanking him for accepting the invitation.
Kasuri said he was unhappy about the attack on Kulkarni. Recognising the right of people to protest, he said as long as the protest was peaceful, it was justified but that what happened to Kulkarni was beyond that.
Kasuri reached Mumbai on Sunday for the last leg of his book release tour. His book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy’ will be launched at Mumbai’s Hall of Culture, Nehru Centre.
Despite the threats, Maharashtra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis, has assured ‘total security’ for the event. “For all foreigners, diplomats or foreign dignitaries who are allowed on a proper visa in our country, it’s the responsibility of our government to provide them security. Hence Mr Kasuri and the programme will be provided total security,” he said.
“But this does not mean that we endorse all his views. No anti-India propaganda will be tolerated through any such programme, and if found so (sic), the organisers would be held responsible,” he added.