The past few weeks has seen an escalation and inflammation of remarks with a communal edge and instances to compliment them. But a serious flashpoint was reached when the Sri Ram Sene reacted sharply to a tiatr purportedly against terrorism with the name ‘Muthalik” on its poster. While the incident is under control and the Chief Minister has blamed the media for fanning it, we touch a broader issue. Are right wing so-called “social” organisations, threatening to disturb peace and the social fabric by their communal jingoism. This discussion with a panel with very strong representatives including Pramod Muthalik’s number two man Gangadhar Kulkarni, was fiery, rapid and argumentative. While the tiatrist and the right wing organisation men did not agree, they parted ways after sharing a cup of tea.
SUJAY: The entire controversy revolves around the tiatr - Akantwadi Goean Naka. I would like to question, if the tiatr was against Muthalik as claimed, why has the protest been based on violence and threats?
SHINDE: Let me first say that we are not working into this field now but for the past several years. We have often come across such derogatory remarks but never dealt it with any sort of violence. We are of the opinion that whatever difference of view or issue is there, it should be resolved either through settlement or by adopting law. Here the issue is that through a drama, they have tried to defame a person, one’s principle. I am not talking here about Pramod Muthalik (SRS chief) but whatever is shown in the tiatr is against Hindu religion and a Hindu leader. On the poster of the tiatr it’s clearly written that it is based on Muthalik. I would question, if he is a terrorist and if yes who has proved it? If judiciary does not call a person a terrorist, one has no right to defame him or her through tiatr or any other form.
FRANCIS de Tuvem: Just based on a poster you cannot judge what the content in it (tiatr) is. One has to go and watch it before judging it. Without watching one minute of it, you cannot say that someone’s image has been defamed. First watch it and then take a call whether it has hurt someone’s sentiments. If so, they could have very well requested the producer or director of tiatr to delete certain portions of it, which I guess would have been accepted if not, then taken recourse to police or court.
SUJAY: And this has come on the heels of government directions to tiatrists that they should not defame any politician through their art?
FRANCIS: Yes. It only says that tiatr is based on Muthalik, no where did the poster say that it is based on Sri Ram Sena chief Pramod Muthalik
SHINDE: Muthalik is a unique word and not common. Secondly he is in limelight in Goa for last two to three months and everyone knows who is Muthalik. I have seen the tiatr. We also have CD. Our comment and protest is based after watching it. In tiatr there is no censorship, so where should we go and raise objections?
Prabhakar Timble: I would like to state that it is the poster that contains the name of Pramod Muthalik should have been avoided. It is for the people to judge whether they want Muthalik or not. The organizations had right to go to police and demand ban but what wrong was that threats have been given and we cannot neglect that.
SUJAY: Why does Muthalik or Sri Ram Sene conjure images of violence.
KULKARNI: Our organization is spread across India and welcomed by people. I don’t understand why we have a problem in Goa. Why people here are making it as an issue. We have not come in and nor we have made any problem. People here first need to know what SRS is and who Pramod Muthalik is. Muthalik is a person who for past 40 years, is away from his home, has been working for the nation and Hindu religion. He has never been called terrorist by anyone. So, why is SRS being targeted? We want to know why people are against SRS and who are the people who are provoking the public by trying to malign our image?
About tiatr, we had met SP, DySP and had also issued notice to Tousif (tiatr maker) but he refused to accept it. Then we went to media and told him that if he feels Muthalik is a terrorist then he should prove it. We had also said that lets sit and discuss as to what is the problem and resolve it. But he has neglected us.
SUJAY: So you got threats to be issued to make sure he does not release it?
KULKARNI: There are lakhs of people and hundreds of organizations who follow Sri Ram Sena ideology and work in sync with Muthalik. So, someone must have definitely got hurt with this and must have made a call. I cannot deny this. But making a phone call is not a big issue here but why was Muthalik name figured on the poster. It all started with it. Just through tiatr you cannot call Muthalik a terrorist.
SUJAY: Not a big issue? There is the police and the Court where you people could have gone and filed a case rather than making such threat calls.
KULKARNI: I have no idea who called Tousif, but Tousif could very well gone to police and file complaint against that person based on the phone number. Our issue is how can they declare Muthalik a terrorist, who gave them right to say so. Are tiatrs made to malign someone’s image?
On that sword statement, I would like to clarify that the statement was taken in a wrong way. In our Hindu religion, we worship weapons, especially during Dussera festival.
SUJAY: Mr Timble if you can educate us on what is the genesis of this entire issue.
TIMBLE: I feel we are focusing too much on tiatr and Muthalik. The organizations that are bordering on ‘dharma yudha’ (religious fight) are in every religion- in Islam they are called Jihadis. I feel we need not glorify Muthalik too much. We should not be a part of that concept where we are trying to create Hindu vs rest principle. And now since tiatr is Catholic centric, the atmosphere of the society should not be Hindu vs Catholic. SRS may be doing social work but their modus operandi is too arrogant, oppressive and violent. These kind of things will defiantly disturb the society fabric.
SUJAY: It has created a polarizing situation. There seems to be lot of fear among Goans who are worried about entry of SRS and other Hindu organizations.
SHINDE: If you go to see, since the time of independence, especially in case of Goa, wherever there is majority of Hindu, its organization or people have never tried to promote violence. Hindus believe in ‘united we live’ concept. Despite being in majority, Hindus have accepted and are living together in peace with all religion and all sections. There is no discrimination.
TIMBLE: Other religious and communities too live in sync with one another. Not just Hindus.
SUJAY: Let us look at the fabric in Goa. There has never been A religious conflict in the State. Yes, there have been conflict around language, regional issues but now people are living in the fear of religious conflict. How much is that justifiable?
SHINDE: If we take this tiatr issue, after watching this, do you feel peace and harmony would be maintained. The dialogues and the content in the tiatr will disturb the peace.
TIMBLE: Tiatr is just a form of expression.
SUJAY: When Muthalik gave speech saying swords should be kept in every Hindu house, was that intended to maintain harmony.
KULKARNI: We don’t find anything wrong in that statement. There has been effort to create fear in the minds of every Goan against SRS and Muthalik.
SUJAY: Who are these people? (behind the curtain)
KULKARNI: Those who are doing illegalities, against which SRS is acting, are worried that once SRS comes in, it would be stopped. Illegalities like drugs, prostitution, and sex rackets. They are in sync with local politicians and some high profile people and hence they are creating fear. Aam Admi has no fear but there are certain sections who are trying to create fear in their minds. Not just in Goa but Muthalik had asked Hindu people to keep swords in their houses across India. We are not against tiatr. We too are against terrorism but it hurts when Muthalik name was figured in it. Our organization itself is working against terrorism.
SHINDE: In the tiatr there is a person called Pundalik, a main lead who asks his son to keep sword with him. Through this you yourself are creating fear in the minds of people against Hindu community rather than taking it out.
TIMBLE: No No; if someone is talking against SRS does not mean he is talking against Hindu community.
KULKARNI: Tiatr has tried to show all Hindu organization as terrorists. If Tousif is so concerned about terrorism, why is he not featuring the terrorism spread across India through his tiatr?
SUJAY: You said that drugs, prostitution is in Goa being a tourist state, but we have the government, police, political forces to act against. Why do we need SRS to stop all this? The approach of SRS has been that it will come and take over everything.
KULKARNI: We have not said anywhere that we will come and control everything. SRS is a registered organization and under constitution it has certain powers. We are committed to protecting the Indian culture. What we are trying to create is awareness amongst youth about Indian culture and its identity. I agree, we have the government to take care of everything but to monitor functioning of government we need to have such organizations.
TIMBLE: Whether it is the SRS or any organization, it has rights under constitution to work but if it crosses its limit, government will act.
KULKARNI: So let us come and work; why to comment in advance. We will come to Goa for sure. No doubt about that but will work within our framework.
FRANCIS: Our tiatr was based on media reporting. We did not go to investigate. We just add some massala to it. This is a question of democracy and our freedom.
TIMBLE: Any organsation can come and work but there will be curbs on its freedom
SHINDE: There have been several laws to control corruption but still Anna Hazare has to run the movement and inform India. Muthalik in his interview to HCN had said that he will not work against the law and order.
FRANCIS: I welcome Shinde’s remark on corruption but Anna Hazare movement was based on peace and non violence. The same SRS should do and follow.
KULKARNI: So let us come and work and then let people say whether they accept us or not. We never said that we will come to Goa and kill but we are projected like that.
SUJAY: There is a feeling that HJS, Sanatan and SRS -these organizations are working closely with government while others feel that they are upset with BJP government for not following their Hindutva path.
SHINDE: The principle of Hindutva has always been discussed and we work in that direction. We had recently welcomed Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’souza’s statement when he said he is a Catholic Hindu. But we are disappointed with the BJP government in Goa. They have failed in their promises. For example; it refused to put a ban on cow slaughtering despite illegal slaughtering taking place. Government despite assurances did not move out casinos from Goa.
KULKARNI: We assure that with SRS coming to Goa, its culture and identity would not be affected. Parrikar himself is from Sangh Parivar and I find no reason for him to object SRS. If we do something wrong or try to disturb the harmony, government is free to take action.
TIMBLE: All the political parities, be it Congress or BJP use communal cards during election. During the 2014 election (Lok Sabha) the communal card was widely used. Parrikar can’t afford to go against SRS or HJS. He cannot stop them.