It was to a packed room that former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri introduced his new book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insiders Account of Pakistan's Foreign Policy’ on Monday evening. Due to threats from the Shiv Sena, security at the event was tight, and the guests were put through four layers of security checks, asked to provide ID proof each time.
The threat perception was so high that the cops immediately took action when a TV journalist pointed out a man to them saying he looked suspicious. The man wore a saffron-coloured shirt and sported a tilak on his head. This sparked rumours that there were Shiv Sainiks in the room, and the cops began to check everyone wearing saffron clothes, including a journalist from this paper.
Apart from this incident, however, the book launch was a peaceful affair, attended by literati like Kiran Nagarkar and veteran journalist Kumar Ketkar. Onstage, apart from Kasuri, were Sudheendra Kulkarni (chief of the Obersever Research Foundation, which organised the event), former journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, actor Naseeruddin Shah and historian AG Noorani, who formed the panel for the evening.
Padgaonkar, who was part of the team that had in 2011 submitted a report on Kashmir to the then Union home minister P Chidambaram, commended Kulkarni’s courage in continuing with the event despite the incident that took place in the morning, when protestors smeared ink on his face.
Other panel members also slammed the Sena’s protests against the event, while Naseeruddin said, “I have been to Pakistan several times and have always been greeted with warmth. Never has a performance been endangered or cancelled.”
According to the Sena, Pakistan was waging war on India and Indian solders were dying at the border, which is why the two countries must not have cultural ties. Commenting on this, Kasuri, who served with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, said, “In Pakistan, it's said the Indian army is killing our soldiers. Here, it's the opposite. At the end of the day it's the soldier and the common man who suffers.”
Kasuri had met severe criticism in 2004 when, during ongoing Indo-Pak peace talks, he had invited the Hurriyat for discussions as well. To this, he said, “There was no ulterior motive. To achieve success in finding a solution to the Kashmir issue, we have to have support of all the parties involved. You don't have to consult people to start a war. But, to ensure peace, you have to consult all.”
As the book launch closed, Kasuri was once again taken amidst tight security to another venue within Nehru Centre (we hear it was to a restaurant on a floor above for dinner).
6 arrested for paint attack
The Antop Hill Police yesterday arrested six people, including Shiv Sena’s Wadala shakha pramukh Gajanan Patil, in connection with the paint attack on ORF chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni, ahead of the launch of former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's book.
The others who were arrested are Dinesh Prasad, Ashok Waghmare, Prakash Husbe, Samadhan Jugbhav and Venkatesh Nair. After the attack by Sena activists, Kulkarni had registered a complaint with the police on Monday afternoon. Sources revealed that three, out of the six arrested, were directly involved in the case.
The case is registered under sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 147 (rioting), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and other relevant sections.
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