DEFIANT: The threat to Sahitya Akademi winner Damodar Mauzo has finally made Goans sit up and take notice of the dangerous activities of the Sanatan Sanstha
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when a volcano erupted over the Intelligence Bureau’s direction to the Goa police to offer protection to Sahitya Kala Academy winner Damodar Mauzo. For a Saturday following the week when Prabhakar Timble took on the Sanatan Sanstha in my old newspaper O Heraldo. For a Saturday following the week when, though the Congress managed to stall the functioning of the Assembly for two days, they could not take advantage of the saffron curse facing the coalition. For a Saturday following the week when Manohar Parrikar, substituting for Power Minister Pandurang Madkaikar who is still in a coma, wants to hike the power tariffs in Goa to the level of New York. For a Saturday following the week when 40 lakh residents of Assam lost their citizenship rights.
And a few stray thoughts on the uproar in Goa over the revelation that there was a threat to the life of Sahitiya Kala Academy winner Damodar Mauzo from the killers of Gauri Lankesh.
The Karnataka SIT (special investigative team) which is investigating the Gauri Lankesh murder recovered a diary comprising over 50 names which were part of the hit list of those who conspired to kill Gauri Lankesh. Not only Gauri Lankesh, but also Narendra Dabholkar and comrade Pansare, MM Kalburgi, as I believe the Bengaluru police team has established that the gun used in all the murders was the same.
The provocation for including Damodar Mauzo on the hit list was a speech he reportedly made in Dharwad where he declared that while he was proud to live in Goa the land of communal harmony, he was ashamed that it was also the headquarters of an extreme right wing organization like the Sanatan Sanstha.
Damodar Mauzo’s reaction to the threat has been one of great courage. He is reported to have remarked that no bullet can match the speed of a thought or an idea. Unfortunately this is not true as was dramatized in the case of Gauri Lankesh and other rationalists.
Incidentally the protection to Mauzo, who accepted it very reluctantly, was on the instructions of the IB and not the Goa police. Though the Central agencies based on PR threat perceptions have directed 24-hour protection to Mauzo even when he travels outside he has been given only one PSO as far as we know — the lowest category that can be provided. Damodar Mauzo has been courageous enough to demand an immediate ban on the Sanatan Sanstha.
On the day that Central agencies revealed that Damodar bab was on the hit list, Raju Naik, the editor of Lokmat, called up every Congress MLA to raise the matter in the Assembly. To his great dismay only Curtorim MLA Reginald Lourenco agreed to raise the matter which he promptly did during zero hour. Unfortunately, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, while confirming the news that they had been alerted to Mauzo being on the hit list, did not give any assurance that Sanatan would be banned.
The Dakshinayan Abhiyan org, of which Datta Naik is the Goa head, called for a protest rally to express solidarity with Damodar Mauzo. In its press release, the secular anti- superstition body started by Dr Ganesh Devi, condemned “Sanatan elements for their cowardly attempts to threaten freedom of expression and instill fear among secular and liberal writers and journalists who fearlessly fight regressive feudal forces which are spreading hatred in Indian society”. The Goa unit of the Abhiyan has called for a ban on the Sanatan. However, of the English daily newspapers, only the Herald carried the press note.
Though Dr Ganesh Devi has written the article page where he has referred to the murder of rationalists, he neither mentioned the threat to Damodar Mauzo, nor called for a ban on Sanatan.
And a few stray thoughts on the reluctance of individuals and organisations, including the media, to take on the Sanatan, though it has been active in Goa for over two decades.
Though it has not carried out any assassinations in Goa so far, it was involved in twin bomb blasts in the year 2005, when Digambar Kamat was the chief minister. The bomb blast was allegedly a protest against the Goa government encouraging the glorification of Narkasura at the expense of Krishna during Dussehra. Fortunately for Digambar Kamat, who was presiding over a Narkasur effigy burning contest just 50 mtrs away from the bomb blast, the Sanatan activist, Malgunda Patil, bungled, blowing himself up in the process. Another bomb went off in Cortalim without causing any damage.
An SIT headed by the then DYSP Umesh Gaonkar was set up. Umesh, a fearless and very honest officer who broke the back of the Rudolf gang in Santa Cruz, presented a 90-page report indicting the Sanatan Sanstha. By the time the report was submitted the BJP had come to power and under pressure from Sudin Dhavalikar it was buried. The Dhavalikar brothers have made no secret of the fact that they are supporters of the Sanatan Sanstha. In fact the wife of one brother is or was working for the Sanatan.
Historically, the Sanatan has been reportedly responsible for brainwashing women, as testified by Dr Nidhi Tawde, wife of ENT surgeon Dr Virendrasinh Tawde who was one of the main suspects in the murder of Narendra Dabholkar.
Dr Jayant Athavale, the founder of the Sanatan Sanstha, is a psychiatrist who allegedly uses drugs to control and brainwash his followers, who are called ‘seekers’. He has openly called for war on those who do not agree with his views of Hinduism. Way back in 2005, writing in the Dusherra issue of Sanatan, he asked Hindus to become Naxalites to destroy evildoers. Detailed extracts from his book, including Athavale’s agenda for terror, are covered in depth in this issue.
The media, and even social activists, are afraid of saying anything against the Sanatan as they are masters in filing defamation suits.
During one of the hearings of the defamation suits filed against the Goan Observer we discovered that just in the Ponda civil and criminal courts over a hundred cases are pending filed by the Sanatan Sanstha. There are five cases against Raju Naik, the resident editor of Lokmat, who is the only journalist to take on the Sanatan apart from the Goan Observer.
Such is the fear of the harassment of the Sanatan’s strategy of filing hundreds if not thousands of defamation suits, that no English or vernacular paper in Goa is willing to even report Justice Scaria’s judgment against the Sanatan in the civil defamation case filed against us.
We are one of the very few organisations who have won both the criminal and civil defamation cases filed against us thanks to the brilliance and dedication of High Court advocate Joseph Vaz from Panjim. But even for us it has been a torture, as over the ten years that the case dragged on, we had to visit the district court in Ponda over 500 times.
The risk was even greater because the HQ of Sanatan is just five km away from the Ponda Court. We salute Judge Scaria for his courage in risking the wrath or even being put on the hit list of the Sanatan Sanstha.
Following the threat to Damodar Mauzo, the only Goan intellectual and social activist to openly call for a ban on the Sanatan Sanstha was Prabhakar Timble, who wrote an exhaustive piece which was carried by the Herald on Monday.
Credit should also be given to Raju Naik of the Lokmat, who led a recent agitation with Damodar Mauzo calling for a ban on the Sanatan Sanstha. We request the Supreme Court and activist lawyers to ask for the transfer of all pending cases filed by the Sanatan against media and individuals to the Karnataka High Court as it is suspected that the Sanatan enjoys the support of the BJP governments in Goa and Maharashtra.
And a few stray thoughts on the continued divisions in the Congress camp.
Their infighting has prevented them from taking advantage of the fact that two MLAs supporting the BJP — Pandurang Madkaikar and Francis D’Souza — are in hospital and three more, namely Sudin Dhavalikar, Carlos Almeida and Manohar Parrikar himself, may have to go back to the hospital at any time as they have not been completely cured. Indeed Manohar Parrikar is expected to return to New York after the Assembly session. Presumably for health reasons he was not present in the morning in the Assembly on Tuesday.
The Congress moved a call attention motion on the formalin fish scam. The Congress had managed to stall the functioning of the assembly for two days. Manohar Parrikar was forced to reply to the show cause notice and announced the ban on the import of fish for 15 days. But the very next day the expert of u-turns, confronted with the fact that three trucks with fish from outside the state were caught at Cuncolim, claimed that the ban was only on sale and consumption of fish, not on import for fish mills. Parrikar has even gone to the extent of claiming that the garbage problem is more serious than the adulteration of fish, vegetables and fruits.
The Congress had another chance to topple the government when the amendments to the TCP act were being voted on. The Congress could have taken advantage of the fact that the strength of BJP was down by three as the Speaker cannot vote unless there is a tie. But because of the fight for the chief minister’s kodel between Pratap Singh Rane, Luizinho Faleiro and Digambar Kamat, the Congress could not even keep its flock together. They lost by a tally of 15 to 21 whereas they should have at least got 16 votes in their favour.
Churchill Alemao supported his old friend Vijai Sardesai. Jennifer Monserrate, whose husband is the patron saint of the building industry, was missing from the Assembly during the vote. Though the Congress now has a very active president in Girish Chodankar, it is not able to take on the BJP perhaps because the party has not given any funds even to pay the salaries of the staff in the Congress office.
NEW YORK TARIFF
And a few stray thoughts on the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was substituting for Power Minister Pandurang Madkaikar, threatening to increase the power tariffs to the levels prevailing in New York.
Power tariffs in New York are five times the rates in Goa which Parrikar claims is the lowest in the country. While it might be true that power tariffs need to be increased to provide better quality power, it is doubtful if Manohar Parrikar can ever match the quality of power and reliability in New York. Parrikar admitted that during his three month stay in the Sloan Kettering hospital in New York, for treatment of his pancreatic cancer, the power fluctuated only once, affecting the internet.
In contrast, power fluctuations are so routine in Goa, that no gadget can be used without an inverter. Even when I was staying in Bombay for over 15 years I never used an inverter for my fridge, air conditioner, or washing machine. In my office in Goa I have been forced to have a 12-hour backup in my production room as I cannot risk power shut downs and interruptions — particularly on production days.
My banks in Goa, both public sector banks, often cannot tell me my balance or send me messages on withdrawals or ATM transactions, because their server is down for lack of power. If you do not get water it is not necessarily because the pipe line has been damaged when JIO has dug up the road — often it may be because there is no power supply at OPA either for the filtration plants or for the pumps for distributing the water. There is such a desperate shortage of power in the Verna Industrial Estate that no industry can function without generator backup.
The only people who have benefited from the low power tariffs of Goa and the power rebates are the steel rolling mills. Indeed, a case is going on against Mauvin Godinho, former power minister, for granting rebates illegally to steel rolling mills. Ironically the original complaint against Mauvin was filed by Manohar Parrikar.
And a last stray thought on the implications of the citizenship survey that was held in Assam.
The survey was ordered by the Supreme Court since there has been large scale influx of refugees from Bangladesh into Assam, with the result that the Assamese had to compete with the immigrants for jobs and other facilities and the Assamese people were the losers, as the migrants were willing to work at much lower wages than the locals.
The presence of a huge number of Bangladeshi refugees also puts a lot of pressure on the infrastructure — specially water, power and roads.
The influx goes back to the ‘70s when Bangladesh was liberated by the Indian armed forces. Prior to this liberation and even after, there is been a steady flow of migrants into Assam, just as in Goa.
When the report of the registrar general on who were genuine citizens of Assam, conducted under the guidance of the Supreme Court, was released, it was found that there were 40 lakh illegal migrants in Assam. Even relatives of Assamese Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal have been shown on the list of migrants and may lose their citizenship rights.
Critics suspect this is part of the strategy of Modi and Amit Shah to drive Muslim refugees back to Bangladesh so that they can benefit from communal polarization. The Supreme Court, however, has warned against any penalties or action against the 40 lakh citizens who have been identified as outsiders.
I have begun wondering what would happen if a similar citizenship survey was conducted in Goa. Migrants have come to Goa from the time of Liberation, when Goa needed teachers, engineers, carpenters, masons, and labour to work at the MPT, Goa Shipyard, the steel mills, etc.
Many of the migrants are 3rd or 4th generation residents of Goa. At least 50% of the migrants have been born in Goa.
The census figures on mother tongue released recently provide a clue to the number of migrants in Goa. According to the 2011 census there are only eight lakh Goan residents who acknowledge Konkani as their mother tongue. If the current population is 16 lakhs this could mean that remaining eight lakhs, who listed their their mother tongue as Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Marathi and even Nepali and dialects spoken by tribals in the Northeast as their mother tongue, would be considered outsiders.
Fortunately Goa, like Kerala, has no problems with migrants as they are mainly employed in jobs in which Goans are not interested!