‘You are Deserving of Death Penalty in the Hindu Rashtra & This Penalty will Be Executed Soon’: Extremist Outfit Threatens former Journo Ashish Khetan

Written by Teesta Setalvad | Published on: May 13, 2017

Khetan, who received this threat from an outfit, in language strikingly similar to threats by the Sanathan Sanstha(SS) received by rationalists and free thinkers, Narayan Daboklar and Govind Pansare has written to Home Minister, Rajnath Singh urging that the GOI take this and other threats to journalists and free thinkers seriously
 



Last July (2016) was the first time that Ashish Khetan received such a threat when he had in a formal complaint to the Commissioner of Police solicited action to which, unfortunately there was no response. He proceeded with his public responsibilities for the Aam Admi Party (AAP).

Yesterday, the letter dated May 11, 2017 was delivered and the threat was direct and chilling.” You are deserving of Death Penalty in the Hindu Rashtra’ and in case the message was not clear, the four five line missive “This job, with Ishwar (God’s) blessing will be carried out soon.” The missive refers to the CBI’s probe, by officer Nandkumar Nayar of the SS, that included raids of their offices and even arrests of their volunteers, Virendra Singh Tawde.
 
Khetan who has received this direct threat is more, much more than an AAP politician, however. In his investigative work as a journalist for Tehelka, Headlines Today and Gulail he has exposed such forces with documentary evidence. In June 2016, he had in a series of social media posts tweeted on the failure of investigative agencies under the Modi regime to nab the culprits behind the murders of Narayan Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. Ashish Khetan had posted messages on social media and mentioned that Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti had perpetrated the murder of Dabholkar. Khetan added that investigation agencies have identified the culprits responsible for Dabholkar’s murder. He had named four members of the Sanatan Sanstha — Sarang Akolkar, Rudra Patil, Jaiprakash Hegde and Praveen Limkar — behind the murder. All four have been absconding since 2008.
The anonymous letter by this extremist outfit proudly identifying itself as part of the Hindu Rashtra regime and vision was received in Khetan’s office(1233/DDC on 11/5/2017). On the envelope there is a reference to the Hindu calendar, “Jayatu Jayatu Hindu Rashtram.”


 

 

 
Khetan has addressed a strong letter to Rajnath Singh, Home Minister to which are annexed the two threatening letters.
 
In the letter, he states that ‘Yesterday I received a threatening letter at my office claiming that my killing is imminent. The letter advocates the cause of terror accused Sadhvi Pragya and those who are accused of killing the noted rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, the political activist from Maharashtra, Govind Pansare, the scholar, MM Kalburgi and many other innocent Indians. It then pronounces my death sentence with the threat that it will be carried out soon.
 
‘It is pertinent to mention here that those who are suspected of gunning down Dr Dabholkar and Pansare are still out of the reach of law enforcement agencies. Similarly, the prime accused in terror cases like the Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express bomb blasts have been absconding for almost a decade, with our agencies conspicuously failing to bring them to justice. The parent organisations to which these accused belong have also gained in prominence.  
 
‘Sanatan Sanstha, Abhinav Bharat, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, Hindu Rakshak Samiti, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini, Sri Ram Sene, Vishwa Hindu Parishad have all been found to be involved in acts of violence and communal riots. Some of these organisations have common members and leaders. They also keep assuming new identities. Evidence collected by agencies and available with the government suggests that they are all part of the same hydra –headed social forces.   
 
‘Many people believe that in the last few years an atmosphere of fear and oppression has built up in the country. The space for critical thinking and free writing has shrunk. Anyone expressing a contrary viewpoint is easily cast as being anti-national. Writers and free thinkers and activists have been repeatedly threatened and in some cases the threats have resulted in ugly violence and even murder. Sadly, the culprits behind some of these killings are still at large and forces inimical to liberty and equal rights are only gaining in strength.
 
He has urged the government of India to take strict action against the culprits and protect democracy and free thought and expression.
 
In July 2016, Ashish Khetan had tweeted, “Right wing group Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliate wing Hindu Janajagruti Samiti are behind the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar. Agencies have cracked the case. ‘Sadhaks’ of Sanatan Sanstha and HJS behind Dr Dabholkar’s murder have been identified.” Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune in June 2013 when he had gone for a morning walk in Pune. Even though close to four years have passed ever since Dabholkar was murdered but police have failed to crack this case. Then, after the Modi government was sworn in in May 2014, Govind Pansare was killed in February 2015 and Kalburgi in August of the same year.

“Sanatan Sanstha had carried out bomb blasts in Maharashtra and Goa. Even though agencies had demanded for a ban to be imposed on Sanatan Sanstha but the erstwhile Democratic Front government had failed to take action against the organisation,” Khetan had added.

Khetan had then not disclosed the sources from where he received this information and didn’t provide any documentary evidence in support of his claim. Narendra Dabholkar’s son Hamid Dabholkar had said, “Mr. Khetan’s allegations confirm our suspicions which we, along with the kin of Mr. Pansare and Mr. Kalburgi, have been expressing for a long time — that the murders are the handiwork of extreme rightwing elements. The State government ought to wake up at least now and reveal the names of the assailants,” he said.
Around this time, the CBI had searched the house of an alleged Sanatan Sanstha member Sarang Akolkar, wanted by the NIA in the Goa blast case, in Pune, in connection with the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar. CBI sources said besides Akolkar’s house in Pune, searches were on at the premises of Virendra Singh Tawde in Panvel near Mumbai in connection with the Dabholkar assassination case.

The entire text of the May 13, 2017 letter of Ashish Khetan to Rajnath Singh may be read here:
 
To,
 Shri Rajnath Singh,
Home Minister,
Government of India,
New Delhi
 
Dear Sir,
 
Many people believe that in the last few years an atmosphere of fear and oppression has built up in the country. The space for critical thinking and free writing has shrunk. Anyone expressing a contrary viewpoint is easily cast as being anti-national. Writers and free thinkers and activists have been repeatedly threatened and in some cases the threats have resulted in ugly violence and even murder. Sadly, the culprits behind some of these killings are still at large and forces inimical to liberty and equal rights are only gaining in strength.
 
For the last seventeen years I have written about fundamentalist and anti-national forces undermining our democracy and liberty and how these forces have been behind the orchestrated killings of innocent men, women and children. Some of this work has been done in the face of great risk and danger. And my articles have been used in the courts of law to convict those guilty of mass carnage.
 
 
Yesterday I received a threatening letter at my office claiming that my killing is imminent. The letter advocates the cause of those who are accused of killing the noted rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, the political activist from Maharashtra, Govind Pansare, the scholar, MM Kalburgi and many other innocent Indians. It then pronounces my death sentence with the threat that it will be carried out soon.
 
It is pertinent to mention here that those who are suspected of gunning down Dr Dabholkar and Pansare are still out of the reach of law enforcement agencies. Similarly, the prime accused in terror cases like the Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express bomb blasts have been absconding for almost a decade, with our agencies conspicuously failing to bring them to justice. The parent organisations to which these accused belong have also gained in prominence.  
 
Sanatan Sanstha, Abhinav Bharat, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, Hindu Rakshak Samiti, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini, Sri ram Sene, Vishwa Hindu Parishad have all been found to be involved in acts of violence and communal riots. Some of these organisations have common members and leaders. They also keep assuming new identities. Evidence collected by agencies and available with the government suggests that they are all part of the same hydra –headed social forces.   
 
The letter sent to me is a chilling reminder of the growing confidence of anti-national and fascist forces who want to exterminate all dissenting voices with violence. The language used in the letter is strikingly similar to many threats that Dabholkar had received immediately before he was brutally killed.
.
I had received a similar threat letter in July last year. I had then sent a complaint to Police Commissioner of Delhi. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a response. I am sure if a similar instance had happened with a BJP or RSS leader or member of RSS parivaar, the response of the police machinery would have been strikingly different.
 
I would urge you not to treat this is as an individual complaint. I am writing this on behalf of scores of journalists, activists, artists, writers and ordinary citizens across the country who have been threatened or attacked by the right wing forces.
 
I the ardent hope that the present government will carry out its constitutional duty of protecting liberty and democracy I am writing you this letter. The two threat letters, the contents of which are self-explanatory, are annexed. ’ 

Annexed to the communication by Ashish Khetan to Rajnath Singh are the letters received and the following:
http://www.sanatan.org/en/a/3429.html