A police First Information Report against them notwithstanding, six Shiv Sena workers accused of pouring a thick, tar-like substance over author Sudheendra Kulkarni yesterday to protest his association with a former Pakistani foreign minister, were seen brazenly meeting party chief Uddhav Thackeray at his official residence Matoshree in Mumbai, according to reports.
Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut compared the party activists to soldiers fighting with Pakistanis on the border.
“If we can give Param Vir Chakras and Veer Chakras to the soldiers fighting with Pakitan, then what's wrong in felicitating people who allegedly smeared Kulkarni's face with black paint to protest former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri's book launch in Mumbai,” Raut said.
The men are listed as "unidentified persons" in the FIR.
Kulkarni was attacked by these men for refusing to cancel the launch of the book of ex-Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. Times of India reported that among those arrested were Gajanand Patil, Dinesh Prasad, Ashok Waghmare, Prakash Husbe, Samadhan Jadhav and Venkatesh Nair.
Shiv Sena workers accused of ink attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni met Uddhav Thackeray at Matoshree earlier today pic.twitter.com/D8bhN2MI2U
— ANI (@ANI_news) October 13, 2015
#BREAKING | Uddhav Thackeray meets the 6 Shiv Sena workers in Matoshree, including Gajanan Patil, who attacked Sudheendra Kulkarni yesterday
— CNN-IBN News (@ibnlive) October 13, 2015
Thackeray is said to have felicitated the men who accosted Kulkarni as he left his house and smeared the black paint on his face. In the subsequent news conference Kulkarni refused to wipe the paint off his face and continued unperturbed.
An editorial in the Sena's mouthpiece Saamna said "being patriotic and securing our country is Maharashtra’s work and we are doing our work," reported The Hindu.
"I have been labelled a Pakistani agent in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana'. I respect their freedom of expression. They should also respect others' freedom of expression," Kulkarni said at a press conference.
The Observer and Research Foundation, which Kulkarni heads, had organised Kasuri's book launch event at Nehru Centre in Worli, Central Mumbai, which took place as scheduled last evening amidst tight security.
"When it is said I am a Pakistani agent, I say yes, I am an agent but an agent of peace and will continue to be one," he said.
Asked about the arrest of six persons he said, "I am not concerned about their arrest and bail. I have faith in our judiciary."
"Ours is a democracy. Freedom of thought and speech is a fundamental thing. ORF is a non-political organisation. I don't want to comment on Sena-BJP ties," he said.
Meanwhile, reacting to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' criticism of blackening of Kulkarni's face, Sena leader Sanjay Raut today said "CM Fadnavis has not understood Maharashtra. In fact, the state has been defamed due to his statement." (With PTI inputs)
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