After terrorising organisers to cancel ghazal singer Ghulam Ali’s performance in Mumbai, the Shiv Sena is now up in arms against the book launch function of former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. It has written to the Nehru Centre, seeking cancellation of the programme to be held on Monday. Meanwhile, the organising think tank, Observer Research Foundation has written to the Maharashtra Chief Minister seeking protection for the Pakistani.
Kasuri is to visit Mumbai from 11 to 14 October. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is likely to provide security cover to the former Pakistani minister, Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairperson of Observer Research Foundation told The Sunday Guardian.
Despite repeated attempts, the Chief Minister was not available for any comments on the issue.
“At a time when the Pakistani military is torturing innocent Indians, we will not allow a programme of Pakistan’s former foreign minister,” Sena’s Arvind Bhosale said.
In Mumbai, Kasuri is set to launch his book Neither a hawk nor a dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy on 12 October in the presence of renowned lawyer A.G. Noorani, senior journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, actor Naseeruddin Shah, Chief Executive of Nehru Centre Satish Sahney and ORF chairperson Sudheendra Kulkarni.
The event will be hosted by Observer Research Foundation, Nehru Centre and Penguin Books India at Nehru Centre in Worli.
Kasuri is likely to visit Mani Bhavan, Jinnah House and veteran actor Dileep Kumar’s residence during his Mumbai trip.
“Improving ties between India and Pakistan is the need of the hour. Kasuri has shown the path of peaceful and cordial relations between the two countries, through his book. We have organised this programme with the same intention,” a spokesperson of ORF said.
ORF has written to Fadnavis seeking “sufficient and impenetrable security” to Kasuri. “A few days ago, renowned ghazal singer Ghulam Ali’s programme had to be cancelled by the organizers in view of threats from Shiv Sena. On that background, strong security should be given to Kasuri,” Kulkarni has said in his letter to the Chief Minister.
“Our purpose in organising this function is to make our own humble contribution to the much-needed normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan. Even a cursory glance at the book will demonstrate that Mr Kasuri strongly believes in peaceful and co-operative ties between our two countries,” the letter has stated.
Kulkarni has further said, “I am writing you this letter to make an earnest request to ensure that Mumbai Police provides adequate and fool-proof security to Mr Kasuri during his stay in Mumbai. Security for an eminent Pakistani dignitary like him would be necessary even in normal circumstances. However, the need has grown manifold in the light of the recent reprehensible episode in Mumbai, when Shiv Sena successfully terrorised the organisers of a concert by Ghulam Ali to call it off.”
Criticising the Shiv Sena for its stand, Kulkarni has said, “Such repeated acts of coercion by the Shiv Sena, and its leaders’ brazen habit of taking the law into their own hands, are an assault on both the Indian culture and Indian Constitution. They also seriously damage the national and global reputation of Mumbai as a city with a liberal and tolerant ethos.”
Meanwhile, the Congress has offered to organise a programme of Ghulam Ali’s ghazals in Mumbai, to gain political mileage from the controversial topic. “Considering the demand of crores of Mumbaikars, Maharashtra Congress proposes to organize Ustad Ghulam Ali’s concert in Mumbai,” party leader Ashok Chavan said. The Shiv Sena has already slammed the Delhi government for inviting Ghulam Ali. It has also said it will thwart any attempts to invite the singer to Mumbai to perform.
In a scathing editorial in its mouthpiece Saamna, Shiv Sena had said, “All those who want to listen to the velvet notes of the Pakistani singer should be taken to the homes of the dead Indian soldiers.”