Kasuri Book Row: Black Label No Whitewash

Shiv Sena goons pour paint on Kulkarni to stall book launch of ex-Pak foreign minister; fail to prevent event as govt throws a tight security blanket.

Published: 13th October 2015 04:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th October 2015 10:05 AM   |  A+A-

MUMBAI: Encouraged by its success in getting a music concert by Pakistani gazal maestro Ghulam Ali cancelled last week, Shiv Sena workers attempted to stop the book launch of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri in the city by blackening the face of the event’s organiser — Sudheendra Kulkarni. However, they did not succeed as Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis threw a tight security blanket on Kasuri as well as Nehru Planetarium, the venue of the book launch.

The Shiv Sena had threatened to stall the launch of Kasuri’s book — Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy, reiterating its stand that it will not allow any Pakistani author, artiste or cricketer in the city as a mark of protest against the country-sponsored terrorism in India.

On Tuesday morning, four unidentified workers of Shiv Sena poured a can of oil paint on Kulkarni — Chairman of Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a foreign policy think tank — as he left his Sion residence in his car, along with his daughter Tapas.

According to a complaint lodged by Tapas, the Sena workers were waiting for Kulkarni outside the building compound. “They threatened me and smeared me with black paint, saying khabardar (beware),” he said.  A defiant Kulkarni, however, said he will not be “cowed down” by such actions and the book launch will happen as planned. He went to the ORF office, where Kasuri was scheduled to visit, with the blackened face.

Sudheendra.jpgA source in ORF told Express that Kulkarni had offered Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray a time slot of 10 minutes at the book launch event to express the party’s views on its opposition to Kasuri and the Pakistani nationals. “Sir (Kulkarni) had met Thackeray on Sunday night to convince him not to protest against the book launch. However, Thackeray was adamant,” the source said.

The book launch, meanwhile, took place as scheduled without any untoward incident as Fadnavis, who also holds the Home portfolio, swung into action as soon as Kulkarni came under attack. The Chief Minister immediately released a statement saying it was the duty of the government to protect any foreign national who had arrived in the country on a valid visa. At the same time, he warned that action will be taken against organisers, if any anti-India statement was made at the event.

Fadnavis deployed top police officers to reach the ORF office as well as Nehru Planetarium. Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti personally oversaw the security arrangements at the Planetarium and ensured that no Shiv Sena worker could reach there. When it realised that threats were not working the Shiv Sena adopted a diplomatic way of writing letter to the CM. Unmoved by Sena’s stand, Fadnavis conveyed a strong message to Thackeray saying that the government will have to take stern action if the Shiv Sena workers try to disturb law and order. The warning worked. The book launch took place without disruption.

“I thank the CM of Maharashtra who provided me extensive security from the time I landed in the city,” said Kasuri, who had the last laugh. 


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