MUMBAI: Shiv Sainiks tried to disrupt a function on Tuesday where five Pakistani photographers were invited to share their experiences in the city.Invited by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) as part of its Mumbai-Karachi Friendship Forum, the group had just been introduced to the audience at the Mumbai Press Club when the Sena workers moved towards the stage and began raising slogans, "Shiv Sena zindabad, Pakistan murdabad." They were immediately stopped by police and escorted out of the venue.

Yusura Askari, a Karachi-based TV correspondent who is part of the delegation in Mumbai, said, "What we just saw is not Mumbai. It is a wonderful city and we have enjoyed our stay here. We are overwhelmed by the hospitality, love and affection shown to us."

The Pakistani team arrived in the city on June 20 and will return to Karachi on June 30. Five photographers from Mumbai will, in turn, visit Karachi in July and photographs shot by both delegations will be exhibited in Mumbai and Karachi around Independence Day.

Malika Abbas, a photojournalist with Pakistan daily Dawn, said she had visited five homes here during her visit and was overwhelmed by similarities in the cultures of the two countries.

"The food tastes the same, the tea is same. The only difference is that it is raining heavily here and I bought an umbrella and became nostalgic about the old days when I would hear a lot about Mumbai's rains," said Farah Mahbub who teaches photography in Karachi.

ORF (Mumbai) chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni denounced the Sainiks' attempt to disrupt a function to introduce the visitors. "Uddhav Thackeray is himself a good photographer, it's shocking... we will not succumb to pressure by those who think they alone are patriots. I am a proud Maharashtrian and a patriot and will continue to promote Indo-Pak friendship," said Kulkarni who also recalled that, despite Sena's threats and throwing of ink on his face, he had held a launch for former Pak foreign minister Mahmood Kasuri's book last year.

The Shiv Sena mouthpiece, Saamna, had, in its edition on Tuesday, accused Kulkarni of being "up to his mischief" and provided the time and venue of the function in an apparent attempt to incite Sainiks to protest. The Azad Maidan police arrested five Sainiks for holding a protest without permission. They were later released on bail.

Courtesy India Times