In yet another attack on ORF chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni, Shiv Sena activists today tried to disrupt his press conference in South Mumbai for inviting Pakistani photo journalists to the city under a peace initiative.
The incident occurred at Press Club when Sena workers barged in at the venue despite the security arrangement and raised slogans against Kulkarni and against Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism.
The Pakistani photo journalists were also present at the presser when the incident occurred.
The handful of activists were immediately detained by police and taken to Azad Maidan police station.
The Sena activists had last year smeared Kulkarni's face with black ink for organising a function to launch a book written by former Pakistan foreign minister Khursid Mehmood Kasuri.
Kulkarni's Observer Research Foundation (ORF) has launched a project 'Tasveer-e-Karachi' 'Tasveer-e-Mumbai' under which five photographers visit each other's countries as "messengers of peace".
While the five photo journalists from Pakistan arrived in the city on June 20 and will return on June 30, the Indian contingent is expected to travel to Karachi in the first week of July.
Unfazed by the ruckus, Kulkarni, erstwhile speech writer of BJP patriarch L K Advani, said, "They (Shiv Sena) threatened us saying we should not allow any Pakistani to enter Mumbai. Inspite of their threat, we conducted a programme last year for the release of Khursid Mehmood Kasuri's book in Mumbai. We shall do so again and again."
He said Mumbai did not belong to these people who claim to be the "sole preservers, protectors of the national interest".
"We are also patriots....We equally condemn terrorism, religious extremism, but we shall not bow before these extremists who want to stop us from promoting India-Pakistan friendship," Kulkarni said.
He later told PTI that Sena activists tried to hit his car after the presser ended.
"While I was conducting the press conference, Sena workers barged in and created a ruckus shouting slogans like 'Sena zindabad' and 'Pakistan murdabad'. Also, when I was going back after conducting the press conference, they tried to hit my car," Kulkarni said.
Questioning the logic of Sena in opposing entry of Pakistanis to Mumbai over backing terrorism against India, Kulkarni said, "All Pakistanis are not terrorists. There is a strong section there that condemns terrorism and are victims of terrorism themselves."
On 'Tasveer-e-Karachi' 'Tasveer-e-Mumbai, he said, "This is an example of photography for peace. Terrorists shoot with guns, they (photographers) shoot with cameras. Sena should see the difference because Uddhav Thackeray (Sena president) himself is a very good photographer. He should honour his own photographic fraternity."
He further said that Government of India, the security forces and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were capable of responding effectively to the threat of terrorism.
"People of both countries want to live in peace. This can happen with more people-to-people contact so that the constituency of peace and friendship becomes strong. They have every right to protest but every political party should also follow rule of law. Nobody can take law into their hands and commit violence," Kulkarni said.
Meanwhile, justifying their action, Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said Kulkarni should go to the border and tell extremists to stop terrorism.
"Pakistan is openly conducting terrorist attacks and our jawans are dieing on the borders. When the country is reeling under terrorism, he (Kulkarni) is inviting them.
"Last time (at Kasuri's book launch) he did the same thing and was given protection. Why did not BJP tell him to stop this? Who is behind this man? Why does he not go to the border and tell terrorists to stop terrorism...Make peace with terrorists," she asked.