On Monday, a group of people allegedly belonging to the Shiv Sena party attacked Sudheendra Kulkarni, head of the Observer Research Foundation, throwing ink on him as he left his home in Mumbai's Matunga neighbourhood. The incident was seen as a warning to the Foundation against going ahead with its event planned for Monday evening to launch a book written by a former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.

Last week, after the saffron party forced the cancellation of a performance by Pakistani musician Ghulam Ali, it threatened to launch a "Sena-style protest" against the Kasuri event. Kulkarni had reportedly met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at his home on Monday night and asked him to allow the book launch to proceed. But Thackeray refused to back down.

"I have requested Uddhav Thackeray that Shiv Sena should not oppose the book launch event,” Kulkarni was quoted as saying in news reports. “I also told him that the event will proceed despite Sena's threat."

The ink attack, says Kulkarni, was perpetrated by a group of 10 to 15 men wearing saffron sashes and shouting "Shiv Sena zindabad" as they surrounded him outside his car. "They caught me, shouted slogans, called me a rashtradrohi (traitor to the country) and threw black ink on me," said Kulkarni, who also displayed his blackened tricolour lapel badge. "This attack doesn't bother me but it is an insult to the tricolour and to democracy."

Soon after the attack, Kasuri addressed a press conference with ink-smeared Kulkarni to condemn the act by the political outfit and promised that the book launch event would proceed.

“As a politician, I understand the right to protest. But as long as it is peaceful it is justified,” Kasuri told reporters. “What happened with Kulkarni is not right. I am not here to fight. I am here to spread the message of peace. I have been invited here, and I won’t let down the people who have invited me,” he added.

In response, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut said that the ink throwing incident was a “mild” form of protest. "Ink attack on Kulkarni is a mild reaction from Sena, this is not ink but the blood of our soldiers,” he said.


Kulkarni, meanwhile, took to Twitter to praise Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of the Bharatiya Janata Party for standing against its ally, the Shiv Sena, and promising to allow the event to proceed.



Condemnation of the attack followed swiftly.