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Days after getting alleged death threats from two BJP members over his controversial remarks against PM Narendra Modi, Shripal Sabnis, author and president of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan on Wednesday claimed to have received a “very serious threat” to his life on Twitter.
According to Sabnis, the alleged threat came from advocate Sanjiv Poonalekar, who tweeted: “Tumhi sakali morning walk la ja, Shripal Sabnis… (Go for a morning walk, Shripal Sabnis).” Poonalekar is representing accused Sameer Gaikwad in the Govind Pansare murder case in Kolhapur. Both Pansare and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar were killed when they were out for a morning walk. While Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune, Pansare was killed in Kolhapur.
While Sabnis called it the “Sanatan mindset” and appealed to people to take on the “forces working against democracy”, Poonalekar denied issuing any threat through the tweet. “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 (any action),” said Poonalekar.
Attacking Sabnis for using derogatory language against the Prime Minister, he added: “…and then Sabnis brazens it out by saying that he has a village background as he is from Marathwada and therefore his language might sound disrespectful. Similarly, I am from Konkan where it is common for the local people to use phrases like ‘go for a morning walk’ when they don’t agree with the views of other people.”
Poonalekar said he had 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. Sabnis, however, demanded strongest possible action by the police over the “brazen tweet”.
“They are out to silence voices of sanity. The society should see through their game and rise to put them in (their) place…They are now clearly targeting me because I vehemently oppose bad tendencies,” he said. Sabnis also said that the security provided to him was inadequate.
“So far, police have provided me with one armed guard; this is highly insufficient to protect me and my family. They should enhance my security. The government should act fast before these evil forces strike again,” he said.
When contacted, Pune Police Commissioner K K Pathak assured that threat perception to Sabnis will be re-examined and appropriate action taken.
Meanwhile, Hamid Dabholkar, son of the slain rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, sought an immediate probe into the matter. “The tweet is very serious…it reveals a lot of things…They (police) need to probe it thoroughly,” he said.
The Sanatan Sanstha played down the tweet, calling it the lawyer’s personal view.