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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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