After getting two alleged death threats from BJP members last week over his controversial remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shripal Sabnis, author and president of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, on Wednesday received a “very serious threat” to his life on Twitter, this time allegedly from advocate Sanjiv Poonalekar, who is representing Sameer Gaikwad, the arrested accused in the Govind Pansare murder case.
“Tumhi sakali morning walk la ja, Shripal Sabnis…(Go for a morning walk, Shripal Sabnis),” tweeted Poonalekar. While Sabnis described the tweet as a “very serious threat” to his life while calling it a “Sanatan mindset”, Poonalekar denied he had issued any threat through the tweet.
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“It is not a threat at all. But if people want to read motives into it, I don’t care. If anybody wants to take action against me, let them take,” Poonalekar said.
Poonalekar said Sabnis used derogatory language against the Prime Minister of the country. “And then Sabnis brazens it out by saying that he has a village background as he is from Marathwada and therefore his language might be disrespectful. Similarly, I am from Konkan where it is common among the local people to use phrases like ‘Go for a morning walk’ if you don’t agree with the views of other people. Therefore, since I don’t agree with the use of bad language by Sabnis against the Prime Minister, I have asked him to go for a walk…,” Poonalekar said.
Poonalekar said not all people who go for a morning walk have been killed. “Several people are killed in their homes and offices…,” he said.
Both Dabolkar and Pansare were killed when they were on a morning walk. While Dabholkar was shot in Pune, Pansare was killed in Kolhapur.
Poonalekar said he has not deleted his tweet despite being flooded by several reactions. “I have done nothing wrong. The tweet is not a threat and therefore I will not delete it,” he said.
However, an infuriated Sabnis said the police should take strongest possible action in the matter as the “brazen tweet” reflects the “Sanatan mindset”, which was very dangerous for freedom of speech in this country. “They are out to silence voices of sanity. The society should see through their game and arise to put them in place,” he said while alleging that similar “evil forces” had claimed the lives of Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.
Demanding immediate security for himself and his family, Sabnis said, “So far, the police have provided me only with one armed guard, which is highly insufficient to protect me and my family. They should enhance my security. The government should act fast before the evil forces strike again.”
When contacted, Pune Police Commissioner K K Pathak said they would examine the threat perception to Sabnis and take appropriate action in the matter. “We have already provided him the security after he complained of threat last week. In the latest case, we will examine threat perception and, if need be, will beef up his security cover,” he said.
Reacting to Poonalekar’s tweet, Hamid Dabholkar, son of Narendra Dabholkar, sought an immediate probe into the matter. “The tweet is very serious… it reveals a lot of things. Police should take it as a clue which they have been looking for. They need to probe it thoroughly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sanatan Sanstha denied that the tweet was in anyway a threat to Sabnis. “This is the lawyer’s personal tweet. It is not a threat at all. The media is blowing the issue out of proportion,” said Sanatan spokesperson Abhay Vartak. Vartak said Poonalekar was not a member of the Sanatan Sanstha, but was a legal advisor to the Sanstha.