Goa-based Sahitya Akademi award-winning writer Damodar Mauzo, who was last week given police protection following death-threats by the alleged killers of Bengaluru-based writer Gauri Lankesh, on Wednesday said the state government has gone soft on the Sanatan Sanstha, headquartered at Ponda in the coastal state, reports news agency IANS.
Prominent Goans, social workers, writers and intellectuals from Maharashtra and Goa who spoke to IndiaScoops.com in the past have demanded a complete ban on the right-wing Sanatan Sanstha and a police investigation into its sources of funding as well as the use of funds collected for so-called religious and educational purposes.
This is after the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of writer Gauri Lankesh found that the Ponda-based Sanatan Sanstha’s bank accounts were used as a conduit to pay the killers. Donations were collected by the Sanstha or its members for various religious and educational purposes, which were discreetly channelized to bear the expenses for illegal, extremist activity.
Last year at an event called the Hindu Conclave, held in June 2017 at the Sanatan Sanstha in Ponda, several far-right speakers had made vitriolic speeches.
One among them was a godwoman from Madhya Pradesh, Sadhvi Saraswati who openly claimed that Hindus must arm themselves and Hindu men should gift their sisters swords. She also demanded that beef-eaters should be hanged in public, or must leave the country, sparking a outrage in the beef-consuming international tourist destination.
Referring to a spate of murders, Mauzo said, “Why has this happened today? When in 2009 the bomb blast happened, the government went soft on the accused. If the government had remained firm, this would not have come to this pass,” Damodar Mauzo said, speaking to IANS.
Eight members of the Sanstha were accused of plotting an IED blast in Margao town in South Goa in 2009, but six were acquitted subsequently and two others died while ferrying the bomb towards a crowded Diwali function.
The Sanstha has said it did not have a role in the blast.
A Congress-led coalition government was in power when the blast took place.
Mauzo was speaking at a solidarity meeting convened in the state capital to condemn the death-threat to the writer, who won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1983 for his novel ‘Karmelin’.
Praising India’s diversity, Mauzo said that in the name of evicting Rohingyas, the national register of citizens was being used to de-list native Indians.
“Do you know what is happening in Assam? In the name of evicting Rohingyas they have prepared a National Register of Citizens. Please go and see whose names are n it. Please understand the agenda behind it and the thought behind it is betrayal of society,” Mauzo said, calling the controversial national register of citizens an “unconstitutional move”, reports IANS.
In 2016, then Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar had said that the Goa government would consult the Maharashtra home department, which was probing the murder of leftist leader Govind Pansare, before deciding on a ban on the Sanstha, reports IANS.
Samir Gaikwad, a member of the Sanstha was arrested in 2016, for Pansare’s murder, even as Rudra Patil, another member of the organisation, also linked to the same crime, is absconding.
Controversies surrounding Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti
The Sanatan Sanstha, established in 1999, has been accused in several high-profile killings and in the 2008 Thane and Vashi bomb-blasts, claims a report in the The Wire.
A member of the organisation is a key accused in the murder of writer and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.
The Sanathan Sanstha or its members are accused of being responsible for an explosion in Goa in 2009, and for bombings in Vashi, Thane and Panvel in 2007, according to a submission which was part of a plea filed by Vinay Rokade in the Bombay High Court, which sought a ban on the organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
In his petition, Rokade had told the court that the state government had forwarded a proposal to the Centre in 2012 recommending a ban on the organisation, but that the Centre did not act on it.
The Maharashtra government’s proposal was based on Anti-Terrorism Squad reports and inputs.
“The government of Maharashtra has reached to the conclusion that Sanatan Sanstha organisation is liable to be banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act,” the government had said in an affidavit filed in connection with the case in 2012.
The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, registered in 2002, is an offshoot of the Sanstha. The HJS’s stated aim is to establish a ‘Hindu nation’.