Lawyer’s ‘morning walk’ advice to litterateur a threat?

Mumbai, Jan 6 (IANS) A lawyer’s purported advice to Marathi litterateur Shripal Sabnis to go for “morning walks” has raked up a controversy with civil society interpreting it as a threat, as two prominent rationalists were killed when they were on a morning walk.

Advocate Sanjiv Punalekar — who represents right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha — gave the advice to Sabnis in a tweet two days ago.

“You should start going for morning walks,” said the tweet, which was aired by TV channels prominently.

“Yes, I made the tweet. That’s because we feel that Sabnis’s mind and body are not well, so he needs to go for a morning constitutional daily,” Punalekar told IANS.

Sabnis, meanwhile, told IANS from his Pune home: “This is a direct threat to my life. I have already conveyed this to police through the lone security personnel assigned to me.”

Sabnis’s reaction assumes significance as two prominent rationalists — Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare — were shot when they were on a morning walk by suspected right-wing activists.

Unidentifed gunmen killed Dabholkar in August 2013 in Pune, while Pansare was shot in Kolhapur in February 2015.

Elaborating, Sabnis, who has been elected president of the four-day 89th All India Marathi Literary Conference starting in Pune from January 15, reiterated that he was “ready for discussions to anything that anybody finds objectionable”.

“Let them come and talk it over. I am not afraid of such threats. I am ready to take bullets,” said Sabnis, who lives with his wife and two children in Maharashtra’s academic and cultural capital.

“It’s time the state government takes this seriously, or I will go the Dabholkar and Pansare way. The government must also initiate suitable action against Punalekar in this matter,” Sabnis demanded.

The author of 29 books, Sabnis has been facing intimidation since the past few days for his utterances against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with some political activists threatening to “break his limbs” and “kill him”.

In an interview with IANS on Tuesday, Sabnis admitted that he was well aware of “intolerance” and his family was living in fear since the past one week.

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