Mumbai: In a major embarrassment for the Maharashtra government, Bharatiya Janata Party ally Shiv Sena has justified the attack on Sudheendra Kulkrani for organising former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's book launch in Mumbai.
Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut has said that this was just a soft attack and it will continue such attacks as long as Pakistan is honoured in India. "This is not ink but the blood of our soldier. The ink attack is just a soft reaction on Kulkarni."
On Monday morning, Chairman of Observer and Research Foundation Kulkarni was attacked by Shiv Sena activists who threw black paint at him and smeared his face with paint outside his residence. "Sainiks attacked me outside my home. Around 8 to 10 Shiv Sena activists came home and right as I was leaving black paint was smeared all over my face. I was abused by them," said Kulkarni.
Meanwhile, a case has been registered against six unidentifed Sena workers for the attack.
Undeterred by the attack, Kulkarni said that Kasuri's book launch will not be called off. "We were threatened that they will disrupt our programme the Shiv Sena style. They had threatened the organizers of Ghulam Ali concert and they succeeded in it and now this has come. We will go ahead with the programme," said Kulkarni.
The incident took even as Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured the organisers of full security cover.
Kulkarni, however, made it clear that he supported the stand taken by Fadnavis and the Maharashtra government. He said that he didn't want protection either before or after the incident.
Fadnavis said, "For all foreigners, diplomats or foreign dignitaries who are allowed on proper visa in our country it is the responsibility of our government to provide them security. Hence Mr. Kasuri and the program will be provided total security. But this doesn't mean that we endorse all views expressed in the program. No anti-India propaganda will be tolerated through any such program. If found so, the organisers would be held responsible."
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' at 5.30 PM in Worli area here.
While addressing the press, Kasuri said, "I want to pay tribute to Mumbai as this is a place where my father studied. It's commercial capital of India. I recognise people's right to protest but what happened to Kulkarni its beyond to right to protest. My book is all about when Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Pakistan in January 2004 and made joint statement. I am concerned about evening program seeing what has happened with Kulkarni."
Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha also questioned the opposition to the book launch. "I do cannot imagine why any political party should oppose like this to a book launch. Why should we object to a book launch. I have myself attended his book launch in Delhi. I can't understand how some political party can do this. It's a question of bilateral with Pakistan. I was in favour of talks. There are better ways to express views," said Sinha.