'If the Sanatan Sanstha is a threat to peaceful co-existence and Goa's culture, then I must stand up against such threats.'
Sahitya Akademi Award-winning writer Damodar Mauzo has been provided security cover in his native Goa following an alert from a Karnataka police team -- currently investigating journalist Gauri Lankesh's murder -- that there is a threat to his life.
The interrogation of Lankesh's alleged killers reportedly revealed that Mauzo's life was in danger from the forces allegedly responsible for the murders of progressive intellectuals Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi.
Unperturbed by the threats, Mauzo, below, tells Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore, "No threat can discourage me from writing against such people and organisations."
Why is there a threat to your life?
The threat is not from any particular outfit, but from right wing organisations.
It seems that those who are arrested (in the Gauri Lankesh murder case) have led to an input about a threat to my life.
Has your daily routine changed after the threat?
Not much, actually.
I don't want anything to change my routine life.
But yes, to some extent, my movements have been restricted, which I don't want.
When they (the Goa government) gave me (police) protection, I made it very clear that my movements should not be restricted.
My freedom of movement, my freedom of speech, my freedom to write, as far as possible, I will see that these are not affected.
How are you planning to tackle this threat? Will it impact your writing?
Let me reiterate: My freedom of movement, my freedom of speech, my freedom to write will not be affected because of such threats.
As far as the threat is concerned, I don't perceive it as a threat to myself, but a threat to freedom of thought and expression.
This threat is a warning to free speakers and free writers to abstain from doing what we are doing.
The only way to tackle such threats is not to bother at all about them.
I will continue writing against all those people and ideas that are harmful to the peace and harmony in Goa and the country.
No threat can discourage me from writing against such people and organisations.
My fight is against these obscurantist and orthodox ideas and not against any people in particular.
Were you ever threatened for your writing?
Why do you criticise the Sanatan Sanstha and have now demanded a ban on it?
I don't criticise the Sanatan Sanstha as an organisation just because everybody is doing so.
I have raised my objections to the organisation based on the arrests of those belonging to the Sanstha (in connection with the murders of Lankesh, Kalburgi, Pansare and Dabholkar)
Somehow, most of the accused arrested in these cases have some link or the other to the Sanstha.
And that is what worries me about the working of this organisation, because Goa is a secular place, a place where many cultures co-exist peacefully and harmoniously.
So, if the Sanatan Sanstha is a threat to this peaceful co-existence and Goa's culture, then, as a writer and right-minded Indian citizen, I must stand up against such threats.
Does the arrest of some accused allegedly connected to the Sanatan Sanstha prove its role in a conspiracy to eliminate other rationalists?
That is the common perception among the people.
That is why we want a thorough investigation into how the Sanstha works as well as why these accused arrested in connection of the murders of progressive, liberal, intellectuals have a link with the Sanstha.
I have nothing against any organisation in Goa.
Anybody can come and continue with propagating whatever they want in a peaceful and lawful manner.
But there is much to be suspicious about the Sanatan Sanstha and only a thorough investigation into its workings can throw light on the facts.
But that is not happening. There is no investigation against them.
Why do you want a ban on the Sanatan Sanstha?
Because of its past and its actions.
Actions of its followers and supporters doesn't enthuse any confidence that they are above board.
If a free and fair investigation proves that they have nothing to do with any illegal or unlawful action, then they are free in Goa.
Have you come across any instance of the Sanatan Sanstha's allegedly unlawful behaviour in Goa?
None, except for the 2009 Madgaon bomb blast where Sanatan Sanstha activists were the main accused.
If stern action was taken against the Sanstha at that time, things could not have gone so far and people like Kalburgi, Gauri, Pansare and Dabholkar would be alive.
If people connected with it were arrested then, why was it not banned in 2009?
Will you ask the Goa government to push the central government for a ban on the Sanatan Sanstha?
See, I am a writer. I don't want to focus on anything else but writing.
But as a writer it is also my duty to think about the welfare of Goa and Goans.
So, I will continue to write against the forces that spread fear among the peaceful people of the state and harm the culture here.
I don't write for or against any particular organisation.
My writings are always for the people and humanity.
What gives you the confidence to say that the Sanatan Sanstha is behind the conspiracy to kill Lankesh, Kalburgi, Dabholkar and Pansare?
No, no. That is not what I am saying.
I am only asking the government to investigate these charges thoroughly so that people know the truth.
But government after government is not taking any action to bring out the facts of these murders.