Goa-based Sahitya writer Damodar Mauzo, who has been provided security cover following intelligence inputs about a threat to his life, in an interview to news agency PTI, says right-wing outfits such as the Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha should be banned as they are like “cancer” for the state.
Asserting that he would continue writing and speaking against such outfits, Mauzo said bullet cannot kill a thought. He is not scared of such outfits, he claimed, but demanded that the Government must not tolerate such “killing agencies”.
The Goa Police recently provided security cover to the 73-year-old Sahitya Akademi award winner following intelligence inputs from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Karnataka Police, probing the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, about a threat to his life.
Mauzo said if action was taken against the Sanatan Sanstha in 2009, when involvement of its activists in a bomb blast in Margao was established, then people like Gauri Lankesh, and rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, M M Kalburgi and Govind Pansare would not have been killed.
Two Sanatan Sanstha workers – Malgonda Patil and Yogesh Naik – had died when the bomb they were ferrying to Margao city in Goa accidentally exploded in November 2009.
The National Investigation Agency, which was probing the case, had arrested some people having links to the Sanatan Sanstha, a right-wing outfit with its headquarters at Ramnathi village in North Goa district, about 40 km from here.
“I have always been saying that Sanatan Sanstha is a rogue institution. All suspects in the four cases (Lankesh, Kalburgi, Pansare, Dabholkar) belong to this institution, which means that it is a training ground, it is a breeding ground,” Mauzo alleged while talking to PTI.
After the bomb blast at Margao in 2009, the outfit should have been banned. If action was taken at that time, people like Kalburgi, Pansare, Lankesh and Dabholkar would not have died, he said.
“Why do we need such a rogue institution in our peaceful state? I can say bluntly…this is a cancer, which is curable, just remove it and Goa will be free from any fears,” he said, referring to the organisation.
If action is taken against the Sanatan Sanstha, then its sister organisations will also be afraid, he opined.
“For us Goans, peaceful coexistence is so much dear to us and we know its worth. The trust between communities living in Goa has to remain,” he said.
Asked about his ideology, the writer, who won the Sahitya Akademi award for his novel “Karmelin” in 1983, said, “Let others decide what ideology I belong to. I am a humanist and I will always remain a humanist.”
Mauzo, who played an important role in the 1967 Opinion Poll, a referendum on whether Goa should merge with neighbouring Maharashtra, said the prevailing situation in the state was concerning.
“It is a worrisome situation. For the first time a writer has been threatened in Goa. All Goans should come together and demand that institutions which are against our harmony be banned,” he said.
Mauzo said though the Sanatan Sanstha has not committed any crime in Goa so far, he is not sure about the future. Alleging that the outfit is a “breeding ground for murderers”, he said action should be taken against it immediately.
This is the time that the government should prove it is working in the interest of Goa and Goans. “Bullet is not an answer, no bullet can kill a thought,” he said.
Asked why he is on the radar of right-wing outfits, Mauzo, who has written several novels and is also a regular contributor to newspaper columns, said he had closely worked with Kalburgi on ‘Vachana’ literature (about sacred texts) for nearly two years.
“But I am not on the radar because of Kalburgi. I am on their radar because I am outspoken and I had pointedly mentioned about the Sanatan Sanstha during the Guwahati Literary Festival (last year) in the presence of the Assam chief minister and also Union minister Prakash Javadekar,” he said.
Mauzo said at the festival, he had expressed apprehensions about multi-culturalism “which is being thrust upon by perpetrators of mono-cultaralism”. “I have been vocal about such things.”
He said he had also delivered a hard-hitting speech at a writers’ forum in New Delhi, which might have disturbed some people.
“When I spoke against the Sanatan Sanstha, they felt pinched and somebody somewhere felt that I should be eliminated,” he claimed.
Mauzo, however, said he would continue writing and speaking against them.
“If I stop writing or going out fearing the threat, that means they have succeeded. When the police gave me protection,I said give me protection but my freedom should not suffer, there should not be any curbs,” he added.
Mauzo is the co-founder and co-curator of the Goa Art and Literary Festival, an annual event that started here in 2010.
According to the SIT probing the Gauri Lankesh murder two ‘hitlists’ were found in the possession of Amol Kale (36), who was arrested in May. Lankesh’s name was second on a list that had a total of eight names. Theatre legend Girish Karnad’s name topped the list.
The other list included 26 targets. Amol Kale, in whose possession the diary was found, is a resident of Pune and a former convenor of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti.
The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti or HJS, registered in 2002, is an offshoot of the Sanstha. The HJS’s stated aim is to establish a ‘Hindu nation’.
He has been associated with the Sanatan Sanstha for a long time.
Sanatan Sanstha, established in 1999, has been accused in several high-profile killings and 2008 Thane and Vashi bomb-blasts, claims a report in the The Wire.
A member of the organisation is a key accused in the murder of writer and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.
The Sanathan Sanstha had also been accused of being responsible for an explosion in Goa in 2009, and for bombings in Vashi, Thane and Panvel in 2007, according to a submission which was part of a plea filed by Vinay Rokade in the Bombay High Court, which sought a ban on the organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.