Shiv Sena smears black paint on Sudheendra Kulkarni’s face to protest Pakistan politician’s book launch

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MUMBAI: Former top diplomat Sudheendra Kulkarni said on Monday that Shiv Sainiks smeared black ink or paint on his face to protest the launch this evening of a book on foreign policy by Khurshid Kasuri, Pakistan’s former foreign minister. ​Police have registered a case against 6 people, in Sion police station, for the attack on Kulkarni.

Kulkarni, who is scheduled to moderate a discussion at the launch of “Neither a Hawk, nor a Dove”, said the incident occurred as he was leaving for his office and while he was in his car near Kings Circle.

“Despite this, today’s event will most certainly take place. Let’s have a very productive interaction with Mr Kasuri. This will further the noble cause of peace between India and Pakistan,” said Kulkarni, on television, after the incident.

In the meanwhile the Shiv Sena reiterated after the attack on Kulkarni that it will disrupt the book launch if it goes ahead as planned today. “The ink attack on Kulkarni is a mild reaction from Sena, this is not ink but the blood of our Soldiers,” said Shiv Sena parliamentarian Sanjay Raut, after the incident. The Shiv Sena had earlier asked officials at the Nehru Planetarium, the venue for the book launch, to call off the function because of Pakistan’s support for terrorism.

The Mumbai police said that following the incident with Kulkarni, it is holding a meeting to review the law and order arrangements for the event.

“I recognize the right for people to protest but this incident is very unfortunate,” said Kasuri.”I want to pay a tribute to this city. I have seen how quickly its possible to change peoples’ perceptions with conversations,” he added.

In response Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra chief minister, had yesterday 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,” the chief minister had earlier 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 organizers would be held responsible,” the chief minister added.

Last week, despite assurances of protection from Fadnavis, a concert by Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali was cancelled by the organizers following threats by the Sena
Maharashtra’s BJP spokesperson, Madhav Bhandari, said the party will look into the incident and take appropriate action against those involved.

Kulkarni alleged that Shiv Sena workers smeared black paint on his face.

Last week, despite assurances of protection from Fadnavis, a concert by Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali was cancelled by the organizers following threats by the Sena. This time the chief minister seems keen to avoid a repeat of that embarrassment.

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