" The government later claimed it was a draft notification and had not been endorsed formally."
Panaji, Aug 7 - Two days after a controversy over censorship of local Konkani theatre erupted in Goa, a theatre actor-producer has claimed that he has received telephonic threats, including one allegedly from a right wing Hindu group, over an upcoming performance on the subject of communalism.

Speaking to IANS Thursday Tousif de Navelim said that he got four calls from various numbers in Goa and Karnataka, and each caller warned him against going ahead with his tiatr (theatre in Konkani), scheduled to be held Aug 9 in the south Goan town of Margao, 35 kms from Panaji.

I got four calls today threatening me against staging the tiatr. One caller threatened to kill me if the play was staged. Another caller who claimed he was from the Sanatan Sanstha said that his (onstage) set would be ransacked on the morning of the performance, Tousif alleged. The tiatrist also claimed he was awaiting legal counsel before heading for the local police station to file a formal complaint.

The play 'Atankvadi Goeant Naka' (Don't want terrorists in Goa), posters of which have already been distributed across the state, deals with the subject of communalism in Goa and even names a notorious right wing activist-politician.

My intention behind the play is to protect Goan unity. We do not want people to come to Goa and try to divide us, he further said.

When contacted for comment, spokesperson for the Goa-based Sanatan Sanstha Manoj Solanki said that the Sanstha had always believed in peaceful protests and dialogue was their preferred mode for conflict redressal.

After asking for the mobile numbers from which the threats were made and checking them with the Sanstha's database, Solanki said: These numbers do not belong to our sadhaks (the Sanstha's disciples). We do not believe in breaking the law. Our protests are always peaceful.

The Congress party meanwhile, has described the threats to Tousif as the beginning of Talibanisation of Goa.

The hidden agenda is now showing up. This is a dangerous trend and needs to be countered democratically as well as legally, party spokesperson Durgadas Kamat said.

On Tuesday, the BJP-led coalition government was charged by the opposition as well as the tiatr industry of trying to muzzle freedom of expression, after an opposition MLA brought to light an official document released by a division of the art and culture ministry, which mandated theatre artists to ensure in writing that they will not criticise government officials, politicians, MLAs and VIPs.

The government later claimed it was a draft notification and had not been endorsed formally.

The threats come at a time when there have been calls for a Hindu nation by Goa's cabinet ministers along with demands made by another cabinet minister for a ban on bikinis, mini-skirts and pub culture.


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