WEB DESK: Let cross-border humanism keep oozing from Salman Khan’s ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, but in Mumbai it is the hideous mindset called Shiv Sena that calls the shots and not the filmmakers.
To it, anything brand-named Pakistan is an anathema; it won’t allow it in the metropolis come what may. The Shiv Sena activists dug up the pitch to abort a match with visiting Pakistan cricket team. The same outfit forced the cancellation of performance by ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali who was to pay a tribute to the legendary ghazal singer the late Jagjit Singh.
That the Shiv Sena would allow Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri to launch his book from the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) platform in Mumbai something which was not on from the word go. But the ORF chief Sudheendra Kulkarni, a former fellow traveller of the Shiv Sena and speech writer of AB Vajpayee and advisor to LK Advani, thought it otherwise.
Ignoring the extremist entity’s warnings, he hosted the book launch ceremony, and paid the demanded price. The Shiv Sena goons got hold of him and smeared his face jet black with glistening oil paint. A ghost-looking Kulkarni appeared live on media, as a distraught Kasuri looked on. All this was not consequent to any for-and-against argumentation about the contents of Kasuri’s book “Neither a Hawk nor a Dove”.
That a Pakistani should launch his book in Mumbai was not acceptable to Shiv Sena. The function had been duly permitted by the Maharashtra government, of which Shiv Sena is a junior coalition partner, its chief minister was geared up to ‘welcome Kasuri to this great city’. But Mumbai is ruled by Shiv Sena thugs.
Let alone author’s prognosis that only talks between the two nuclear neighbours offer the way forward, the extremist Hindu fundamentalist organisation is dead set against even making contact with Pakistan.
The Shiv Sena action has been widely condemned by India’s political opposition and independent media, but neither by Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor any member of his cabinet. He has commented, albeit barely, on the Dadri lynching of a Muslim villager maliciously accused of cow slaughter in response to a question by Anand Bazaar Patrika newspaper.
He may have visited the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and admired its beauty, but in India he wants to be recognised as a saviour ordained to revive Hinduism as it obtained in the distant past. But for such a clear-cut posturing he would not have been the country’s prime minister today.
That being the ambience, quite expectedly the extremist Hindu groups have acquired disproportionately larger clout in Indian polity and a sonorous say in running the affairs of the state, and thereby a leverage to spawn terror among the minorities. What then happened in Mumbai during Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book-launch has been described as “Talebani hooliganism” by the Congress leader Digvijay Singh. But more than that, it is for the world to see through New Delhi’s consistent anti-Pakistan accusations as a deflector from the havoc the Hindutva-nurtured extremist outfits play with lives of its minorities on day to day basis.
Also, it is worth noting that Kasuri’s function was on the Shiv Sena hit list not for the contents of his book; the function was being sabotaged because Shiv Sena was opposed to a Pakistani speaking in the city of Mumbai. Rightly then as Kulkarni says it was ‘an assault on democracy in India’, a shame that the Modi government will have to live with.