After Ghulam Ali, it’s Khurshid Kasuri, who faced the wrath of the Shiv Sena. Khurshid, a former Pakistan foreign minister is in India to launch his book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove’.
The Shiv Sena pulled up Sudheendra Kulkarni, the event organiser, also a BJP sympathiser from his car this morning. As per Kulkarni, the Sena workers threw black paint over him and threatened him to not carry on with the book launch scheduled in the evening. Shiva Sena had already given a warning prior to this to cancel the event. Their justification is that, with the increasing ceasefire violations and cross border infiltrations, we should sever all ties with Pakistan. The media immediately sensed a juicy news item in the making and subsequently ran with the story. All through the morning, one could see Kulkarni’s face smeared in black ink flashing across news channels.
There is huge outrage over the Sena’s display of intolerance. Their spokesperson even brazened it out, calling the act ‘Mild’. But honestly, I was not surprised. In fact, I found it as yet another run-of-the-mill incident, taking into account the Sena’s penchant for muzzling viewpoints that contradicts theirs, especially when it comes to Pakistan. Be it digging up a cricket stadium or the recent threat seeking ban on the Ghulam Ali concert, we’ve seen it all.
What irks me the most is not the actual act itself, but the nationwide coverage and platform that the Shiv Sena ended up providing to Kasuri’s book launch. Till a couple of days ago, I had no idea that any such book launch is taking place. In spite of being a journalist and an ardent follower the news and current affairs, I had no clue that a former Pakistani foreign minister called Khurshid Kasuri even existed. Today, his book launch ate up 80% of TV news coverage. He became a national talking point and his book was launched in Mumbai with much fanfare. For Kasuri, he didn’t even have to face any physical discomfort like Kulkarni.
The Shiv Sena’s move not just ended up being counter-productive, but also made them look stupid. Tomorrow, if the book goes on to become a best-seller in India, then you know to whom Kasuri will send a ‘Thank You’ card.