The Shiv Sena on Thursday escalated its war of words with its ally, the BJP, saying since every person who arrives in Mumbai from Pakistan is “a messenger of peace”, the terrorists who have reportedly sneaked into the country should also be treated similarly.
According to recent intelligence reports, three Pakistani terrorists have sneaked into Mumbai and preparing to carry out attacks similar to 26/11 in the city. The central government has warned Maharashtra and a red alert has been sounded for the terrorists who could strike in the crowded festivals like the ongoing Navratri or the forthcoming Diwali.
“We lay out the red carpet for them and accord them highest security,” the party said in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana.
It warned that in case any one them happened to be a “human bomb” and exploded, taking hundreds of innocent lives, nobody should term it as an attempt to spoil cultural and political ties between the two countries (India-Pakistan).
“In the past, such hullaballoo has brought a bad name not only to Maharashtra but entire India... We should adopt ‘a spirit of sacrifice and tolerance’ towards these three terrorists and welcome their attacks with a smile,” the edit said, referring to the debates in the past few days.
The relation between the two oldest saffron allies came under renewed strain when Sena activists blackened the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni, a former Bharatiya Janata Party strategist and organiser of Pakistan’s former foreign minister Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch event on Monday.
On Wednesday, the BJP questioned the Sena’s support to actor Sanjay Dutt in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case and late Bal Thackeray hosting former Pakistan cricketer Javed Miandad at his residence.
“The public understands this politics of opportunism, of convenient nationalism,” BJP Mumbai unit president Ashish Shelar said.
“Those who want to teach nationalism and patriotism to our chief minister Devendra Fadnavis should remember that the national tricolour was not unfurled atop their party office (Sena Bhavan). When he was young, Fadnavis dared to unfurl the tricolour in Srinagar. Those sitting and writing in AC cabins should not indulge in teaching Fadnavis,” Shelar said, in a veiled attack on Sena MP and Saamana executive editor Sanjay Raut, who has been most vocal in attacking the BJP over Kasuri’s visit.
Taking a jibe at the BJP, the party urged that in order to ensure peace with Pakistan, Indians should chant ‘Om Shanti Om,’ and follow the principles of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ to ‘welcome our own death with folded hands, as our prime duty’.
“So, the state government must give a warm welcome to these sneaky terrorists - sorry, ambassadors of peace - ensure no stone left unturned in treating them well as it could spoil the image of Maharashtra... never mind if our nationalistic sentiments go for a toss,” the edit concluded.
However, it assured that people of the state have no cause for worry as a new “Pakistan-loving ambassador of peace” has taken over responsibility to protect the nation from them, referring to its latest bete-noir, Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of think-tank, Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
CM Fadnavis had voiced serious displeasure over the ink attack and said the state would not be allowed to be reduced to a “banana republic”.
Fadvanis’s condemnation of the incident and heightened security at the function where Kasuri’s book was launched on Monday evening had drawn strong reactions from Raut who said the CM “doesn’t understand Maharashtra and is insulting the martyrs”.
The Sena had also threatened to disrupt the event.