Attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni: A black mark on democracy | editorials | Hindustan Times
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Attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni: A black mark on democracy

The attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni suggests no one is immune to intolerance.

editorials Updated: Oct 13, 2015 01:52 IST
Shiv Sena activists threw black paint on Sudheendra Kulkarni ahead of a book launch of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri in Mumbai. What makes it worse is that, till recently, Kulkarni was a pillar of the BJP establishment.
Shiv Sena activists threw black paint on Sudheendra Kulkarni ahead of a book launch of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri in Mumbai. What makes it worse is that, till recently, Kulkarni was a pillar of the BJP establishment.(HT Photo)

If the murder of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh on September 28 on the suspicion of cow slaughter shook the nation’s conscience, the attack on centre-right thinker Sudheendra Kulkarni on Monday took many by surprise since it was an NDA constituent, the Shiv Sena, which was behind it.

Sena activists smeared Mr Kulkarni’s face with black paint in protest against his decision to go ahead with the book launch of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.

The attack was so vicious — and probably unexpected — that it pushed senior BJP politician LK Advani, who incidentally had been quiet on the UP attack till now, to condemn it. “... of late we have seen an increase in cases of intolerance [in India], this is against democracy,” he said.

Last week, the Sena had forced the cancellation of a concert of Ghulam Ali in Mumbai and that of the Indo-Pak band, Mekaal Hasan Band, in Ahmedabad.

The culture of intolerance is not new to India or the world. But strong democracies usually manage to keep — or strive to keep — such negative thoughts and its propagators at bay for its own good.

But in India the scales are tipping in favour of parties that propagate such negative thoughts and whose politics benefit from communal violence. In the last few days, sectarian politics has forced at least 16 eminent public intellectuals to give up their Sahitya Akademi awards in protest against the organisation’s silence on the Dadri killing, the murder of Kannada author MM Kalburgi allegedly for his rationalist views, and the general atmosphere of hate against minorities in the country.

On Monday, Booker Prize winning author Salman Rushdie also joined the chorus of protests. Yet there has been no comments from the government on this yet. This is not the first time it has wasted time before intervening in such incidents.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi kept quiet on the Dadri violence for days but finally spoke up during an election rally in Bihar.

The BJP has condemned the attack on Mr Kulkarni but it could be for two narrow reasons: First, he is one of their own; and second, it does not want to lose out in the turf battle to the Sena in Maharashtra.

Such selective indignation, however, does not serve any purpose — they will not end such attacks against those who dare to cross the laxman rekha laid down by political vandals.