The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Govind Pansare murder case has revealed that senior journalist Nikhil Wagle was on the radar of Sameer Gaikwad, the Sanatan Sanstha member arrested in the Pansare murder case on September 16.
The police have offered Wagle protection but the journalist has reportedly refused the offer.
The SIT had intercepted a series of conversations between Gaikwad and a Sanatan member discussing a possible plan to target Wagle.
A senior police officer confirmed it and said, “Security is being provided to Wagle.”
The officer refused to elaborate further. Wagle turned down the offer calling it a “farce”.
“I don’t think a constable armed with a weapon can protect me. I have had police protection in the past and being a journalist, I consider it very intrusive and a futile exercise,” Wagle told The Indian Express.
He said last week four constables attached to the Special Branch (SB) of the Mumbai Police had delivered him a letter apprising him of an imminent threat to his life and told him, keeping that in view, security was being provided to him. The journalist said no to it.
Wagle said he was always disliked by the Sanatan Sanstha and was often attacked by them through their mouthpiece Sanatan Prabhat.
“In 2011, when I was the editor for IBN Lokmat (a regional news channel), I held a debate on the Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Act. My panelists included prominent slain rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and the Mumbai spokesperson of Sanatan Sanastha, Abay Vartak. Vartak was not able to handle the critical questions asked by me and left the debate halfway. The next day they published my mobile phone number in their mouthpiece and appealed to their activists to lodge their protests against me. I received a barrage of calls,” Wagle recounted.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Press Club has condemned the Sanatan Sanstha threats to Wagle and also expressed its concern relating to the Hindu radical organisation targeting Shaymsundar Sonnar, a senior journalist with a Marathi newspaper Prahaar.
“Sanatan Prabhat wrote an article targeting Sonnar for his interpretation of Sant Tukaram’s pro-science preaching. Sonnar is a varkari preacher who is invited by people across Maharashtra for ‘kirtans’ and public speeches. His rationalist views are very much appreciated and well accepted,” the Mumbai Press Club said in a release Monday.