The Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliates such as the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti have denied any role in the murder of journalist activist Gauri Lankesh, 55, outside her home in Bengaluru on September 5 as well as the murders of three other rationalists since 2013.
With investigators finding a common thread running through the Gauri Lankesh murder case and the killings of three rationalists – Narendra Dabholkar, 69, Govind Pansare, 81, in Maharashtra, and M M Kalburgi, 77, in Karnataka – since 2013, in the form of ballistic evidence and with the Maharashtra investigations suggesting involvement of persons linked to the Sanstha and the HJS, officials of the organisations on Thursday denied any role in the killings.
Advocate for the Sanatan Sanstha, Sanjiv Punalekar, claimed the group did not know Lankesh or Kalburgi, who are from Karnataka, and were not acquainted with their work. “As far as Gauri Lankesh is concerned we did not know her. There is only one article in Sanatan Prabhat where she linked us to the Malegaon blasts. There was a report saying the Malegaon blasts were done by the Sanatan Sanstha. The report was taken from a Kannada paper and translated and there was a note saying she is getting cheap popularity. Other than that the name Gauri Lankesh was never published,” Punalekar said. “The name Kalburgi was also published in the course of a translation of Sanatan Prabhat from Kannada papers and nothing more has happened.”
He, however, said the group did not participate in protest rallies over the killing of Lankesh because she had attacked the Hindu religion.
“In Karnataka they have the audacity to say that we took out a morcha for Gauri Lankesh and that there were no RSS people there. You are abusing, you are taking our names and you are attacking our religion and you expect us to participate,” Punalekar said. He claimed that it is not possible to link the murders of Gauri Lankesh and the rationalists on the basis of the weapons used to shoot them down. “The 7.65 mm pistols are sold in thousands in India. In Maharashtra around 400 murders have been committed with 7.65 mm country made pistol in last five years and these people are saying common modus operandi. Where is date for people coming on motorcycle and killing,” he said.
The Sanstha advocate claimed that the organisation and its affiliates were in favor of “countering thoughts with thoughts”.
“A few days ago there were rumours that the Karnataka SIT has reached the Sanstha’s ashrams and that Sanstha’s workers are being quizzed. We wanted to come to Karnataka and clarify the stance. Till date no sadhak has been questioned by the SIT. The police have not visited the Sanstha. We are a responsible organization working in a democratic system and we are willing to co-operate with any investigation,” said Sanstha spokesperson Chetan Rajhans.
“The name of Sanatan Sanstha, the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and other organisations are being taken repeatedly in this murder case. First of all we on a societal basis unitedly condemn the murder of Gauri Lankesh. But soon after the murder some communist minded people- individuals, journalists and politicians and some intellectuals have been accusing the right wing of involvement,” he said.
“The Dabholkar and Pansare cases have not had fair investigations. Communist-minded people should not build political pressure. Let SIT do its work and let it conduct a fair probe. We are willing to co-operate,” Punalekar said.