Unfazed by criticism, the Shiv Sena likened Sudheendra Kulkarni, who co-orgainsed an event to launch a book by Pakistan’s former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri in Mumbai, to terrorist Ajmal Kasab on Tuesday.
In the face of scrutiny, the Sena even patted its activists who blackened senior journalist Kulkarni’s face for hosting the event under tight security in central Mumbai’s Orli.
Sena president Uddhav Thackeray met the six party workers who carried out the widely condemned ink attack on Kulkarni , a former aide to veteran BJP leader LK Advani. The activists, whom some Sena leaders said were “heroes”, were called to the Thackeray residence in Bandra East where the party chief showered praises on them.
On Monday morning, the six activists, working for local Shiv Sena branches, accosted Kulkarni outside his home, shouted slogans and smeared black ink on his face.
They were protesting against Kulkarni’s decision to host the event for the release of Kasuri’s book “Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove: An Insider Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy”. The Sena workers were arrested late on Monday night and later released on bail.
On Tuesday, the Sena continued with its anti-Pakistan stand and said India faced a greater threat from the likes of Kulkarni than extremists and terrorists.
“People like him are out to cut the neck of our nation.. When there are people like him present here, Pakistan does not need to send people like (26/11 attacker) Kasab for terrorist activities,” the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamna’.
A group of 10 terrorists of LeT, including Kasab, who was captured by Mumbai Police and hanged, had landed at Badhwar Park on November 26, 2008. They triggered mayhem in the city, killing 166 people, including Mumbai Police’s Anti-Terror Squad chief Hemant Karkare.
“An atmosphere has been created where it now seems that Khurshid Kasuri is a messenger of peace or a Mahatma and the Sena has committed a crime by opposing him. However much we are criticised and maligned, we will not change our stand against Pakistan,” it said.
For his part, Kulkarni told a press conference he respects Sena’s “freedom of expression”.
“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.