Shrimant Kokate, 45, author, historian and one of the coordinators of the Maratha community’s fight for reservation, says his life is under threat from Sanatan Sanstha, which “is seeking to rewrite the history of the Shivaji era”. In an interview with The Indian Express, Kokate says the organisation wants to “polarise society” and was “defaming Hindu religion”
How did you come to know about the threat to your life?
The ATS had conducted a press conference in Mumbai last week, where it had revealed that three more persons were on the hit list of people linked to Sanatan Sanstha. My name was on top, followed by two other names — Gauri Hiremath and Vijay Sonawane, both of whom are police personnel.
Why are these people targeting you?
Because I have presented the true picture of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj through intensive research. The world knows that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a truly secular person and believed in including people from all communities. He had risen above casteism. Also, I have brought to light that Dadoji Konddev was not his mentor. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a rationalist and had a scientific bent of mind. The Sanatan Sanstha is opposed to this depiction of him. It wants to divide and polarise society, and is therefore after me. They want to project Shivaji in a wrong manner.
Sanatan Sanstha claims to be a spiritual organisation that spreads Hindu philosophy and principles.
How can we call an organisation a spiritual one if its members are linked to the murders of people who oppose their irrational beliefs? In fact, by adopting violent means and a philosophy of hate, Sanatan Sanstha is defaming and causing harm to Hindu religion that believes in secular values, peace and tolerance. It has no idea what Hinduism is all about.
But neither the BJP nor the Congress government has imposed a ban on Sanatan.
Both the previous Congress-led and the current BJP-led governments at the Centre are responsible for the deaths of four rationalists. If the UPA government had acted on the 1,000-page dossier sent by the Congress-led state government of Prithviraj Chavan, the murder of Dabholkar would not have taken place. Similarly, if the current BJP government had banned Sanatan Sanstha, three more rationalists would not have been killed. Sanatan Sanstha should be banned immediately, otherwise more innocent lives will be lost.
Have you been provided police security?
I had received a parcel bomb and have also been attacked a couple of times for my views on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. After that, I have been provided a single constable for security. But following the new revelation, I am seeking enhanced security.
Sambhaji Brigade and Maratha Seva Sangh say they will give a befitting response.
Our response will be through democratic and constitutional methods. We will fight against those who are seeking to mutilate the original history of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, mislead ‘bahujan samaj’ and polarise society. We believe in bringing people together.
Sanatan Sanstha’s reaction
Following Kokate’s allegations, Sanatan Sanstha spokesperson, Chetan Rajhans, said Kokate was trying to garner publicity. “We are a spiritual organisation. We have no connection with those people who have been arrested recently. The allegation about Sanatan Sanstha having a hit list is false and baseless,” he added.