Updated: October 12, 2015 10:12:58 pm
At the outset, I would like to condemn Shiv Sena for attacking Sudheendra Kulkarni, who invited former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri to launch his book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy’ in Mumbai.
In a democracy like ours, it is essential to value a difference of opinion and its existence. Nobody has a right to attack anybody or indulge in hooliganism just because someone carries a different opinion. The Constitution of India has provided every citizen the right and freedom of speech and expression though with certain limitations. He may be right in exercising his fundamental right; but, I would like to question the motive of Mr Sudheendra Kulkarni too. With the current atmosphere in Mumbai not conducive to hold such event, he could have taken a more guarded approach, especially when the controversy of ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali is still alive at its full force and has been politicised.
Mr. Kulkarni, in my opinion, should have reviewed his decision to hold this event. Moreover, we are all aware that there is a huge difference fundamentally in a ghazal concert by Ghulam Ali who has always been politically non-controversial. Millions of Indians are great fans of Ustad Ghulam Ali, and they believe that despite political differences between the two countries and the prevailing tension, cultural ties should be maintained. On the other hand, Khurshid Kasuri has a precedence of making anti-India statements whether he was in office or otherwise. He is an ex-diplomat and politician of Pakistan – the country which does not let go any opportunity of spitting venom against India and is our virtual enemy. It is certainly not palatable to any common man to let the book get released on India soil; with certain exceptions where the person involved is of impeccable character and who has been holding democratic values throughout his life.
Though the masses believe in continuing cultural ties with Pakistan, the Shiv Sena has a right to differ on this. But, forcing the organiser to call off an event is completely unethical and unacceptable.
Mr Kulkarni or any other person should not have equated the event of book release of Kasuri to that of a concert by Ustad Ghulam Ali. Mr Kulkarni, in the interest of communal harmony and in order to allow current tempers to cool down, should have thought of rescheduling the event to a future more appropriate date. He seems to be at fault here.
The biggest culprit in this whole sequence of untoward events is our weak Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. He is yet to overcome the recent embarrassment of cancellation of the Ghulam Ali’s event.
Despite his assurance of complete security, the organisers could not repose any faith in our CM’s ability to take the threat of Shiv Sena head on. That people do not attach any value to the CM’s words, who incidentally, also holds the Home portfolio, is bound to have adverse implications for the law and order situation in the state.
We are aware that Shiv Sena – caught in the whirlpool of corruption of thousands of crores in the BMC – is desperately trying to distract people’s attention through such senseless agitation. Shiv Sena has no qualms about felicitating former Pakistan cricketer Mr Javed Miandad who is related to Dawood Ibrahim, but, had objection to a non-controversial person like Ghulam Ali singing at a concert in the city.
Talking about this particular event and Shiv Sena’s vehement opposition to this, it is hard to believe that Mr. Fadnavis was not aware that Sena can go to any extent to grab attention and prove its superiority in Mumbai. Our CM should have been more proactive and should have provided full security to the people involved in hosting this event, especially given the current background of events in the city. This is a big failure. Now, the situation is such that the CM of Maharashtra has to beg and plead Shiv Sena to call off the protest.
The CM could have taken preventive measures by arresting potential trouble makers before the book launch. Police should have arrested those Shiv Sainiks who wrote a letter to Nehru Science Centre and threatened them against the event. Can our CM show any supportive document to prove that he did take all possible preventive measures?
It is unfortunate that being the head of the government, Mr Fadnavis is not able to control his own ally Shiv Sena, and appeared so vulnerable and weak. The Fadnavis government is becoming irrelevant day-by-day as the common man is feeling more and more insecure.
(Views expressed by the writer are personal)
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