Sanatan Sanstha Knew All About It’s Foot Soldiers’ Activities, Claims Gauri Lankesh Probe SIT

BENGALURU:  (PTI) The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Karnataka police probing the Gauri Lankesh murder case is hunting for at least five more people.

Also Read: Terror Suspects Planned to Bomb Mahim Dargah, Bandra Fair at Mount Mary’s Church and Pune Sunburn Festival

The SIT insists the leadership of Hindu right wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha was fully aware of the activities of its “foot soldiers” in the killing of some rationalists.

Also Read: Shiv Sena leaders including Uddhav Thackeray were fully aware of Shrikant Pangarkar’s terror links, ‘explosions’, ‘bomb blasts’ plot?

The five men are based out of Goa and Maharashtra adjoining the Karnataka border, an SIT official said, adding that they had taken part in the crimes.

As the SIT started cracking the murder case of Gauri Lankesh, a journalist-activist with strong anti-Hindutva views, leading to the arrest of key players in the killing of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi, it discovered the wide network of operatives of the gang involved in these incidents.

Also Read: Shrikant Pangarkar assembled bombs, funded purchase of explosives and boasted of ‘explosions’ and ‘bomb blasts’ to MoS Arjun Khotkar

“The leadership of Goa-headquartered Sanatan Sanstha was aware of the activities of its foot soldiers and lower rung cadre. We cannot subscribe to this statement that the leadership was not aware of it. They definitely knew about these plots,” the official claimed.

Also Read: Nikhil Wagle, Shyam Manav, Mukta Dabholkar, Ritu Raj, Jitendra Awhad and others on the hit-list of far-right terrorists

He, however, said it was “tricky” to say the outfit had morphed into a terrorist organisation.

The official, however, said there were sufficient reasons to invoke the stringent Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act (KCOCA) against the gang members.

Also Read: Hindutva hardliners Raut, Gondhalekar and Kalaskar planned to blow up 6 theaters, Ganapati mandaps in Maharashtra

KCOCA is the Karnataka version of the law in place in Maharashtra to curb underworld activities, often dubbed as draconian by civil rights groups.

Several people with alleged links to the Sanatan Sanstha have been arrested in connection with these killings, but the outfit has insisted they were not its members.

Also Read: 150 pistols, 100 bombs, 3000 bullets were on the shopping list of arrested hardliners

Sanatan Sanstha spokesman Chetan Rajhans recently said some people with so-called “progressive mindset” and political parties like the Congress and the Left were trying to put the organisation in the dock without providing evidence of any wrongdoing.

Also Read: Ex-Sanatan Sanstha seeker alleges “members hypnotized, made into killing machines and human bombs ready for mass murder or genocide”

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara had said on Tuesday the state police was yet to establish the role of Sanatan Sanstha in the killing of Gauri Lankesh, an outspoken critic of pro-Hindutva ideology, who was shot dead outside her residence on September 5 last year.

Source: PTI

Terror Suspects Planned to Bomb Mahim Dargah, Bandra Fair at Mount Mary’s Church and Pune Sunburn Festival

According to a Hindustan Times report, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Tuesday claimed in a special court that the five recently arrested sympathizers of the Hindu right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha (the group has distanced itself from the accused and said they are not its members) planned to plant explosives at last year’s edition of Sunburn, an annual electronic dance music festival in Pune.

Also Read: Shiv Sena leaders including Uddhav Thackeray were fully aware of Shrikant Pangarkar’s terror links, ‘explosions’, ‘bomb blasts’ plot?

All five were arrested earlier this month from Nalla Sopara, Pune and Jalna in connection with an arms case, and were remanded to ATS custody.

Meanwhile, sources in the Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) told IndiaScoops.com that Amol Kale who was the leader of the fringe group responsible for the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh told his interrogators that the Maharashtra unit or cell of the far-right terror group was planning to plant bombs at the very popular “Bandra Fair” at the Mount Mary Church at Bandra, which attracts thousands of devotees in September.

Also Read: Shrikant Pangarkar assembled bombs, funded purchase of explosives and boasted of ‘explosions’ and ‘bomb blasts’ to MoS Arjun Khotkar

There were 6-7 locations in Mumbai alone and about 20 different locations all over Maharashtra which were being considered by the terror suspects, Kale is understood to have told his interrogators.

“They also had plans to set off bombs at some Ganpati Mandals across Maharashtra, the Mahim dargah during Muharram as well as the Mount Mary Church during the peak festive season starting in September. The bombs would be of low-intensity, which were meant to create a scare and fear psychosis in the mind of the people,” the SIT official told IndiaScoops.com.

Also Read:  With nearly 16-18 bomb blasts across the State, Sharad Kalaskar’s group plotted to rain terror and chaos in Maharashtra during Eid and Ganpati festivals

ATS officials claimed in court that two of the accused – Gondhalekar and Raut – planned to attack the music festival scheduled in Pune for December 2017 because they felt it was “against Hindu culture”.

Sunburn was held in Goa until 2015, and shifted to Pune in 2016.

Also Read: Hindutva hardliners Raut, Gondhalekar and Kalaskar planned to blow up 6 theaters, Ganapati mandaps in Maharashtra

Prosecutors appearing for the ATS made these assertions before a special court constituted to try Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act cases. On Tuesday, four of the five accused – Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar, Sudhanva Gondhalekar and Shrikant Pangarkar – were produced in court, with prosecutors seeking an extension of their custody.

Special court judge Sameer Adkar extended their custody by seven days. The fifth accused, Avinash Pawar, will be produced in court on August 31, reports Hindustan Times.

Also Read: 150 pistols, 100 bombs, 3000 bullets were on the shopping list of arrested hardliners

ATS also claimed that the five accused were involved in throwing petrol bombs outside cinema halls in Kalyan (a city in Thane district, 50 km north-east of Mumbai), and Belagavi (earlier known as Belgaum) in Karnataka for screening the Hindi movie ‘Padmaavat’, Hindustan Times reported.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killers

ATS further claimed that the accused planned to attack individuals who they thought were propagating or engaging in activity that was “against the Hindu religion”.

Atulchandra Kulkarni, Maharashtra ATS chief, said he could not “confirm the names because it will pose a security threat to the individuals.”

Also Read: Ex-Sanatan Sanstha seeker alleges “members hypnotized, made into killing machines and human bombs ready for mass murder or genocide”

The individuals include an author-historian; a former Marathi newspaper editor and three Marathi authors and playrights, ATS officials said on condition of anonymity. Hindustan Times did not name them because of the perceived security threat to the individuals.

The ATS officials also said they had recovered three motorcycles, including one from Nalla Sopara and two from Pune, and claimed one of three bikes, allegedly owned by Kalaskar, may have been used in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru in September 2017.

Also Read: Maha Govt Protected and Shielded Right-Wing Murder-Accused for Four Years, Gauri Lankesh Probe Forced Mah Govt to make Arrests

In their raids, ATS officials claimed to have recovered 10 pistols, one air pistol, one country-made revolver, 10 pistol barrels, six pistol bodies, six magazines, three handmade magazines, one half-prepared country-made revolver, and seven hand-made pistols from Gondhalekar.

Also Read: Journalist Nikhil Wagle was No 2 on the hit list of Maha Terror Suspects

Sunil Gonsalves, the public prosecutor appearing for ATS, told the court that the weapons used by the accused had been dismantled and were thrown away at different places to avoid detection, and that they needed to be recovered. He didn’t elaborate.

with inputs from Hindustan Times

Was an Undercover Killer linked to a Goa-based Far-Right Extremist Outfit Contracted to Kill Fr Bismarque Dias by the Builder Mafia?

Sleuths from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of writer-activist Gauri Lankesh could have accidentally stumbled upon some evidence that could throw light on the sudden, “accidental death by drowning” of Goan social activist Fr Bismarque Dias.

According to a Times of India report, the Crime Branch of the Goa police had filed a closure report in the death of social activist, Bismarque Dias from St Estevam, citing ‘mistake of facts’.

In April 2017, the death of the activist was registered as murder on the directive of the High Court of Bombay at Goa. The crime branch in its closure report, said that on the basis of scientific, forensic, and circumstantial evidence, it can be clearly concluded that it (Dias’ death) was accidental death and no foul play could be suspected.

However, days before his body was spotted floating in Goa’s Mandovi river on November 5, 2015, Father Bismarque Dias had circulated a video naming builders, real estate agents and politicians, and said they should be held responsible if he died suddenly.

Differences with the Goa church over sale of land to a private firm had seen Dias being disrobed, but he remained ‘Father’ for many of Goa’s Catholics.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh murder: SIT uncovers covert pro-Hindutva outfit that recruits assassins

In a new twist to the Bismarque murder-accidental death case, according to SIT sources who have arrested 3-4 persons closely linked to the Ponda-based outfit Sanatan Sanstha, a couple of  individuals associated with the extremist outfit could have been contracted by the Builder Mafia in Goa to get rid of Fr Bismarque, who was becoming a thorn in their side.

Continuous interrogation of the arrested accused Amol Kale alias Bhaisab (39) an activist of the HJS from Maharashtra, Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep (39) a Sanatan Sanstha activist and resident of Goa and Manohar Edave (28) a resident of Vijayapura in Karnataka have revealed details, which the SIT is keeping close to it’s chest as it would hamper further investigations.

However, SIT sources said the arrested persons would do “jobs” on a freelance basis to collect funds for their main activity, which was to eliminate what they termed anti-Hindu voices across the country. The arrested persons above have admitted to the SIT to having done one freelance “job” in Goa, involving an activist who was targeted by the land mafia, but more details are not available at the time of filing this story.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha like cancer, a killing agency and breeding ground for murderers

One such job was possibly the murder of Fr Bismarque at the behest of the Goa Builder Lobby by infiltrating the activist-priest’s personal network with an undercover Sanatan Sanstha member who incapacitated the priest (who had already consumed a few drinks) and then forcibly drowned him or caused him to drown, making the death look like a case of accidental drowning.

According to news website NewsClick.in, investigations into the assassination of rationalist and anti-Hindutva voices — Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh — has produced clear evidence in the form of diaries, documents, gun forensics, and statements of participants, that a five state network of like-minded hardcore extremist Hindutva supporters exists which has been actively planning the physical elimination of many other opponents of their regressive, medieval ideology.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh killers planned to kill actor Prakash Raj, a Goan Congress leader and a Mumbai-based journalist

The shadowy leaders of at least two known Hindu extremist groups, the Sanatan Sanstha (SS) and its splinter Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) were the fulcrum of the inter-state terror group, which specialized in secret assassinations of anti-Hindu voices.

This network drew upon killers from two outfits the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. The Sanatan Sanstha’s bank accounts were used to receive funds, which were then withdrawn in cash and used to pay the killers for their expenses.

Also Read: Main accused in Gauri Lankesh murder confesses to being indoctrinated at Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha

Meanwhile, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder case of journalist Gauri Lankesh seized two bikes used by the accused to execute the murder.

SIT team along with police team led by CPI Raju seized two bikes from a house in Kunigal. SIT revealed that one of the accused, HL Suresh confessed of about having two bikes in a house at Kunigal.

Also Read: Sanatan Sanstha’s bank account was used to channel funds for Gauri Lankesh murder, pay off killer

Prominent activists from Goa last week demanded a ban on the Sanathan Sanstha, calling the right-wing outfit an “extra-constitutional authority” and a “cancer” whose spread should be stopped, reports NDTV.

The latest catalyst for the demand came after inputs of a threat to the life of progressive writer Damodar Mauzo. A special investigation team (SIT) of the Karnataka police, which is probing the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru last September, had told the Goa police about the threat to Mr Mauzo’s life.

Also Read: Gauri Lankesh shooter kept in house rented by man from Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha

The Goa-based right-wing organisation, which has a pan-India presence, however, maintained that the allegations were “baseless”, claiming to have worked in the field of “spirituality” to spread “religious wisdom” about Hinduism.

Mauzo told PTI that the organisation was a “cancer” which should be stopped from spreading in Goa. He also accused the Goa government of going soft on the extremist outfit.

Also Read: Probe into Gauri Lankesh’s murder reveals links to extremist Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha

Stressing on the need for a ban on the Sanstha, Prashant Naik, a social activist, told PTI that legal luminaries should be roped in by the state government to place before the court the need for a ban. “We lost an ‘open-and-shut’ 2009 Margao blast case due to poor legal support during the trial,” he pointed out.

Two men, including one allegedly from the Sanatan Sanstha, had died in 2009 while they were transporting explosives to be reportedly planted in a crowded area in Margao. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had charge-sheeted half-a- dozen activists of the Sanstha, but the accused were acquitted by a local court due to lack of evidence.

Also Read: Goa Govt protecting murderers, going soft on Sanatan Sanstha: Mauzo

“The way the Sanatan Sanstha is going about spreading hatred in the society, it should be banned,” Mr Naik added.

The demand echoed in state Congress president Girish Chodankar. “The Sanatan Sanstha or any organisation that behaves like an extra-constitutional authority should be banned,” he said, highlighting that it had been named in the murder of progressive intellectuals like M M Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and Gauri Lankesh.

What Chodankar forgot was the possible link of the Sanstha in the “accidental death by drowning” of the Goan activist-priest Bismarque Dias.

“When its name figures in all these murder cases, there is no reason why it should be allowed to continue functioning,” the Congress leader had said calling for a ban on the outfit.

Also Read: Plot to kill Lankesh took root at Sanathan Sanstha’s Hindu Conclave in June 2017

Prominent institutions of Goa have demanded a ban on the Sanstha including the Konkani Bhasha Mandal (KBM) — the state’s leading literary institution.

Referring to the threat to Mauzo’s life, the KBM president, Chetan Acharya, said it was the first time that a writer had been threatened in the coastal state.

“Goa is known for its peaceful co-existence and we don’t want institutions like the Sanatan Sanstha which work like extra-constitutional bodies,” Mr Acharya said. “We strongly demand a ban on it so that it can’t spread hatred in Goa any further.”

However, when contacted, the Sanstha’s spokesperson, Chetan Rajhans, refuted the allegations, claiming that there was no threat to Mr Mauzo’s life, at least from his organisation. “Is there any official confirmation to the claims that his life is threatened due to the Sanatan Sanstha?” he asked.

with inputs from PTI, NDTV and Times of India