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Shiv Sena activists blacken ORF chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni's face over Pak minister's book launch

Shiv Sena activists blacken ORF chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni
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Shiv Sena Activists Blacken ORF Chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni\'s Face Over Pak minister\'s Book Launch. Shiv Sena activists on Monday smeared black paint on ORF chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni\'s face for refusing to cancel former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri\'s book launch in Mumbai.

Mumbai: Shiv Sena activists on Monday smeared black paint on ORF chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni's face for refusing to cancel former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's book launch in Mumbai.
"When I got out of my home this morning, a group of Shiv Sainiks stopped my car. When I came out, they smeared me with black paint. They abused me," Kulkarni alleged and said that his Observer and Research Foundation (ORF), a foreign policy think-tank, will go ahead with the planned book launch by Kasuri later on Monday despite the attack.

"We won't be cowed down by such events and the book launch will happen as planned," he said and soon after was present at a media interaction along with Kasuri while still drenched in paint.

Mumbai police spokesperson Dhananjay Kulkarni said the incident occurred in front of Kulkarni's house near Kings Circle in suburban Matunga at around 9.30 am. "About 5-7 unknown persons shouted some slogans and threw colour or ink on him," he said, adding city police will provide security for the event to prevent any untoward incident.

The attack drew sharp condemnation from parties, with Congress saying that "the idea of India as the most liberal democratic country, despite all our neighbours having gone the other way, is being destroyed in the root".

Senior BJP leader LK Advani condemned Sena's action, saying there must be place for a different point of view in democracy.

Defending the action of party activists, senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said "smearing ink is a very mild form of democratic protest. They are so upset about ink. Imagine when our soldiers are killed and their blood is spilled. It is not ink, it is the blood of our soldiers.

"Nobody can foretell how public anger will explode. People in the country are angry over the violence and bloodshed by Pakistan. We do not have anything personal against Kasuri or anyone else," Raut said.

Kasuri's book 'Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider's Account of Pakistan's Foreign Policy', which was recently unveiled in Delhi, was set to be lauched in Mumbai on Monday. Sena had demanded that the event be scrapped and had threatened to disrupt it.

Kulkarni, who has served as speechwriter for BJP veterans Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani, had met Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at the latter's residence 'Matoshree' here late last night, but left without getting any assurance from him.

Kasuri said he was "most upset" over the "unfortunate" incident and asserted that while he respected the right to protest, it should be done in a democratic manner.

The Pakistani leader said the main purpose of his visit was to talk about the peace process between India and Pakistan during his tenure.

"Pakistan and India are not born to hate each other. If there are men of goodwill on both sides, situation could easily change.... That is what is contained in my book and I thought it was important to give this message," he said.

Meanwhile, AAP leader Preeti Sharma Menon demanded immediate arrest of those involved in the ink attack on Kulkarni.

"It is a shame that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has totally failed to provide law and order in the state capital. BJP's coalition partner Shiv Sena has started a reign of cultural terrorism in Mumbai akin to the Taliban. They threatened the organisers of the Ghulam Ali show and got it cancelled a few days back," she said.

"Today they have attacked Sudheendra Kulkarni, the Chairperson of Observer Research Foundation which is hosting a book launch event at the Nehru Centre in Worli," she said.

The AAP demands that offences be registered against the Shiv Sena leaders who have led this attack and they be arrested immediately, Menon said.

"Despite the Chief Minister's so called assurance of protection, Kulkarni was attacked outside his house and his face was blackened. Mumbai police should have taken cognizance of the threat and should have registered cases against all those who has issued the threat," she said.

The Aam Aadmi Party "has been demanding that FIRs should be registered against the Shiv Sena leaders who are threatening the law and order situation in the state, but the police and government have failed to act.

"Hence, the Shiv Sena is getting bolder in its actions and it won't be surprising if they resort to more and more violence in the coming days," she said.

"If the BJP cannot even protect its own people there is little hope that they can safeguard the lives of the citizens. The Aam Aadmi Party believes That if the BJP is unable to control what they call 'fringe' elements, then it has lost its right to rule the state," the AAP leader said.

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