Those who are “sad to see that Hindu organisations are being targeted in spite of a Hindu government being in power” should be aware that the law has no religion and it is above the government in power also. A man who kills another human being is a murderer, plain and simple, and he is liable for the same punishment regardless of his religion. Of course, it is characteristic that Hindutva people should expect to be above the law, when their people run the government. Last week, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials raided the houses of Dr. Virendra Tawde at Panvel, Sarang Akolkar in Pune and recovered several SIM cards, cell phones and data from computer linked to the murder. CBI officers have claimed to have found several e-mail exchanges between the two, which established their close association. Hailing from Devgad in the Konkan, Tawde lived in Satara for the past eight years, and is alleged to be a Sanatan activist for the past 15 years.
This is not the first time that the Sanstha has come in controversy, earlier Sanatan Sanstha member were arrested in four bombings in Vashi, Thane, Panvel (all in 2007) and Goa (in 2009) and in the murders of Narendra Dabholkar (in 2013), Govind Pansare and M. M. Kalburgi both in 2015. This has led to calls for Sanatan Sanstha to be banned. However, such claims are ruled out by Maharashtra Minister of state for Home, Karnataka CID, Goa chief minister and Central Home Ministry. On 2nd December 2015, Minister of state for home for Government of India informed in Rajya Sabha that, no links could be found among the murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M. M. Kalburgi and there is no proposal to ban Sanatan Sanstha. In 2008, six persons owing allegiance to Sanatan Sanstha were arrested for planting bombs at auditoriums in Thane and Vashi and a movie theatre in Panvel. In 2011, two of the accused were found guilty and sentenced to ten years’ incarceration.
Ramesh Gadkari and Vikram Bhave were acquitted of the terror charges under the stringent Unlawful Activites (Prevention) Act (UAPA), however, the state government’s appeal against the removal of this act is still pending in the High Court. On 30th August 2011, Ramesh Gadkari and Vikram Bhave were found guilty in Sessions Court of the Thane blasts and received the maximum sentence of ten years rigorous imprisonment. Judgement of the trail court is further challenged in the Bombay High Court and on 2nd May 2013 court ordered to release the accused on bail. The Maharashtra government has sought to ban the organization and has pressed the case for a ban to the central government as well. The outfit’s image in society is sullied due to allegations of involvement in unlawful activities.
Six members of the Sanstha arrested in the Goa blast case under UAPA were acquitted by the Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court for want of evidence, while UAPA remains in force against three Sanstha members who are absconding. Rudra Patil and Sandeep Akolkar or Sarang Akolkar alias Kulkarni have been declared absconders by the National Investigation Agency, with a red corner notice issued against Patil. A member of the Sanatan Sanstha was arrested for the murder of Govind Pansare. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder arrested Sanstha member Sameer Gaikwad and was on the lookout for another member Rudra Patil, who is absconding since the 2009 Goa blast. The prosecution stated in the court that Sameer Gaikwad was in different city (Thane) around the time of the murder of Govind Pansare. Minister of state for home, Ranjit Patil claimed that the arrest of Sameer Gaikwad was based only on suspicion, and that the only proof is a cellphone conversation about killing Pansare. Indian investigative agencies believe that the Sanatan Sanstha is implicated in the murder of Narendra Dabholkar.
Goa BJP MLA Vishnu Wagh has said that there is an evidence of the Sanstha’s involvement in the murder of Kannada scholar M. M. Kalburgi. In September 2015, Wagh demanded that Sanatan Sanstha be banned, stating that there was evidence of the involvement of the outfit in the Pansare and Kalburgi murders. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has stated that he would not hesitate to ban Sanatan Sanstha. Residents of Goa have been agitating for a ban on the organisation since 2009. This demand of the people for a ban also reflected online and on social media, with a petition on Change.org and a page on Facebook. The daughter in law of Govind Pansare also called for the organisation to be banned. In Maharashtra, the Congress and NCP had earlier demanded that a ban be imposed on Sanatan Sanstha. Meanwhile, Dr. Hamid Dabholkar, son of Narendra Dabholkar termed that Tawde’s arrest shows the wheels of justice have started to spin, even if it’s a bit too late. He also said that, it is the first big step in the right direction by the CBI. Had the action been taken immediately after the murder, the subsequent deaths of Govind Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi could have been avoided.
Sanatan was founded in 1999 by Jayant Balaji Athavale with the blessings of Bhaktaraj Maharaj and is based on the study of spirituality as a science. The stated main aim of the organization is to present spirituality in a scientific language for the curious (Jidnyasu) and to guide seekers. The organization has a chain of centres in different parts of India and abroad. The spiritual sanatan, recently turned towards extremism and whosoever stood against superstition or evils in the Hindu religion have been targeted by the outfit. Anyway, one recent arrest may open many secrets and I hope BJP don’t help the accused to get scot free.
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