Mumbai: Renowned academic and Marathi litterateur Shripal Sabnis, who had criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Pakistan trip, saying the BJP leader could have been killed in Lahore, has filed a police complaint after receiving alleged death threats from two BJP members over his controversial remarks.
Sabnis, a Pune resident, had said at a college event last Thursday that "had Modi been attacked in Pakistan, we would have been compelled to pay tributes to him before (eminent Marathi poet) Mangesh Padgaonkar (who died on Dec. 30)."
Sabnis, who has authored 29 books, had filed police complaint with Umarga police in Marathwada against two BJP members for threatening him.
Sabnis has, however, refused to apologise for his remarks.
Criticising Modi over his silence on the recent intolerance controversy, the writer said, ''the PM lives in the shadow of fear.''
Some right-wing activists have threatened to "break his limbs" and "kill him" for daring to speak against Modi.
"Intolerance? I know what it is. My family and I are cowering in it. We live in sheer fear with death staring at us. There is no help from the police or government - barring an assurance by MoS, State Ram Shinde. The family members are weeping," Sabnis said in an interview.
Practically under a self-imposed exile in Pune, Sabnis, 64, lives with wife and two children even as the family comes under increasing siege from right-wing elements.
They have sought his resignation, burnt his effigies and issued threats.
According to the writer - now elected president of the prestigious four-day 89th All India Marathi Literary Conference (AIMLC) scheduled to open in Pimpri-Chinchwad on January 15 - he had lavished "conditional praise" on Modi, which was not appreciated by the hardliners in the BJP-RSS.
"I had expressed pride that our prime minister had showed the courage to go to Pakistan with his heart in his hands, since there could be treachery and his life could be at risk. What is wrong with that statement?" he said.
Talking about the Godhra incident, which was the starting point of 2002 riots in Gujarat, Sabnis said that "the whole country knows what is the truth about Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat."
"I have actually praised the PM for his good work. However, if Modi feels I have said something objectionable, let him say so and I shall immediately apologise to the entire nation," Sabnis declared.
He said it was regretful how certain elements in the BJP and the RSS selectively used his statement to attack him (verbally) and issue death threats, asking for an unconditional apology. However, he said he was in no mood to oblige "the goons" who failed to understand his statements.
Dwelling on the freedom of speech enshrined in the Indian constitution, Sabnis asserted out that "nobody has the right to take it away from me".
With IANS inputs