Actress and social activist, Shabana Azmi, has criticised Shiv Sena for assaulting Sudheendra Kulkarni during the launch of a book by former Pakistani minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.
She said, ” I was deeply hurt and pained by what Shiv Sena did to Sudheendra Kulkarni ji. I personally called Uddhav (Thackeray) ji in a hope that I will invite him for a discussion. The option of baat cheet (dialogue) should never be ruled out.”
She said the government needed to build pressure on Pakistan for the latter’s role in cross-border terrorism but ‘on the other hand we must not confuse Pakistan government with people of Pakistan.’
“By disrupting the launch of somebody’s book you are helping people like Hafiz Saeed, who don’t want dialogue between India and Pakistan,” the veteran actress was quoted as saying.
Shiv Sena had thrown ink on Kulkarni for organising the book launch event involving Kasuri. Sena’s action had received wide condemnation by members of civil society and opposition parties.
Azmi also said that there was a need to focus on uniting the liberals from both Hindu and Muslim communities to fight against the religious intolerance.
She said, ‘All Hindu-Muslim liberals must come together against those religious intolerance. Zaroorat iss baat ki hai ki Hindu-Muslim liberals ek taraf rhein unke khilaaf jo Hindu-Muslim intolerant hain. Humesha kia ye jata hai,jo bhi mudda hai usko hum Hindu-Muslim masla bana dete hain, jabki ye sangharsh vichaardhaaraon ka hai.”
Religious intolerance in India in recent months particularly since BJP government assumed office at the centre has become a huge subject of discussion. Many feel that the right wing elements have gained confidence after the BJP came to power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been singled out for criticism for ‘turning a blind eye’ to what his party describes ‘fringe elements.’
As many as two dozens of noted writers and eminent scholars have returned their literary and Padma honours in protest against the growing religious intolerance.