Hours after Shiv Sena members allegedly blackened the face of author and former journalist Sudheendra Kulkarni in Mumbai, ahead of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's book launch on Monday, the Sena said that they would continue their protest against "anti-national elements". Kulkarni had organised the book launch and was just stepping out of his car to address a press conference on the launch when black ink was thrown at his face.
"You are seeing what has been happening since the morning," said Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut at a press conference on Monday afternoon. "Some Pakistani agents had organised an event in Mumbai for which Kasuri had come. You have seen the Shiv Sena's stand. You have seen their state, with their face blackened, and how they walked around like that. This is not a political fight, this is the country's fight."
It wasnt an attack, it was a non violent protest: Sanjay Raut on SS workers throwing black ink on Sudheendra Kulkarni pic.twitter.com/OZ2QKpHWHf— ANI (@ANI_news) October 12, 2015
Raut said that they would not stop protesting against the Kasuri book launch, even as rumours surfaced of the right-wing group backtracking. Referring to the Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis' condition that there should be no anti-India sentiment during the book launch, Raut said that they had sent a letter to the CM giving "proof" of Kasuri's anti-India stance, and he hoped that the CM would be "responsible" by stopping the event.
"Under (Shiv Sena leader) Uddhav Thackeray's order, we have sent the letter as proof to the CM. Kasuri has supported the Hurriyat conference. Giving such a person a red carpet welcome is like betraying the nation," he said. "There should be strict action against those who have invited him, and it is the CM's duty to take care of this now."
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Thackeray's son and Shiv Sena youth wing leader Aaditya Thackeray too defended Sena's action on Monday, terming the protest as "non-violent". In a Facebook post on Monday afternoon, he said that the incident was "democratic and historic" and called Sena's behaviour a response against "all the innocent blood spilt on the streets of Mumbai, Jammu and Kashmir, every city that has faced Pakistan-sponsored terrorism".
He hit out at Kulkarni as well in his post. "Let's not even compare the ink shed on a person who has openly lauded a Naxal sympathiser and endorses a foreign minister having links with anti-India separatists from the valley to the bloodshed in our country by terrorists."
Earlier, when Raut was asked if Kasuri's rousing speech on democracy earlier today was what Shiv Sena termed as anti-Indian, he responded saying that Kasuri would "speak in a different tune when he is in India and when he is in Pakistan".