After the latest breakthrough in the murder of rationalist and anti-superstition crusader, Dr Narendra Dabholkar, the state government is looking at fast-tracking its long-pending proposal to ban the controversial Sanatan Sanstha.
The senior state government functionaries said they were appraising the Centre about the developments in the case, in which members of the right-wing radical Hindutva group, which is headquartered at Ponda in Goa, have been accused of alleged involvement in Dabholkar’s killing in 2013.
Dabholkar, who headed the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti and edited the Sadhana weekly, was shot dead by two assailants riding a motorcycle on August 20, 2013, while on his morning walk, in Pune.
After an arms and crude bombs haul at Nalasopara and Pune, at least four right-wing workers — Vaibhav Raut, Sudhanva Gondhalekar, Sharad Kalaskar and former Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar were arrested by the state Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) since August 9 for allegedly planning terror activities in some cities of Maharashtra. Sachin Andure, who was arrested from Aurangabad, has been accused of shooting Dabholkar with Kalaskar.
Deepak Kesarkar, minister of state for home, said they would appraise the Centre of the investigations in the case. “It will depend on what is revealed in the probe. We have ensured compliance on the queries raised (by the Centre on the Maharashtra government’s proposal) earlier,” he added.
A senior home department official said their 2011 proposal to the Union Home Ministry to ban the Sanstha was still pending. This proposal had mentioned cases registered against the members of the outfit founded by Dr Jayant Balaji Athavale.
“The Centre raised some queries which we replied to. Since 2015, no fresh queries were sent. The delay may be because so far, no members of the group have been convicted and some cases are sub-judice,” he explained. Moreover, banning any outfit or organisation made their activities go underground and hence, tough for the law enforcement agencies to track.
“We have sent our report on the case involving Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar and Sudhanva Gondhalekar to the union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). As a protocol, if an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, case is registered by any agency, it has to send a report within 24 hours to the MHA and the state home department,” said an ATS officer.
Founded as the Sanatan Bharatiya Sanskruti Sanstha in the 1990s, the organisation have been registered in different names across states, making it difficult for agencies to track and ban them.
Leader of the opposition, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and other opposition figures have also sought that the outfit be proscribed. However, Sanatan spokesperson said Congress leaders were targeting the group to “save their own skin.”
Sadhaks (seekers or devotees) of the Sanstha have been allegedly linked to the murder of Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Govindrao Pansare in 2015 at Kolhapur and the group has been accused of being allegedly involved in planting explosives at theaters in Thane and Vashi. The group also publishes a daily called ‘Sanatan Prabhat.’