Members of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) have urged the government to clear its stand on the Sanatan Sanstha, a Hindutva outfit whose members are facing charges of orchestrating blasts and carrying out murders.
At a press conference held in Pune on Friday, MANS state secretary Milind Deshmukh said: “Those arrested in connection with the murders of Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and Gauri Lankesh, as well as those recently arrested by the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) with crude bombs, pistols and weapons, are suspected to have links with the Sanatan Sanstha. This is a serious issue. Police have not been able to arrest (Sarang) Akolkar and (Vinay) Pawar yet, but the recent action of ATS has raised hopes. We have been repeatedly pointing at the role of Sanatan Sanstha. It is time the government clears its stand on the outfit”.
Last week, the state ATS had announced the arrests of three men affiliated to radical Hindu outfits from Nallasopara and Satara. One of them was said to be a sympathiser of the Sanstha. Deshmukh also announced plans to mark the fifth death anniversary of MANS founder Narendra Dabholkar, who was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen at the V R Shinde Bridge in Pune on August 20, 2013. He said ‘Jawab Do’ protests will be organised in Pune on August 20, and family members of Dabholkar, Communist leader Govind Pansare, Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh will participate. Tushar Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, is also expected to attend one of the events.
MANS activists will also organise a candlelight march on August 19. Similar protests will be held in Delhi, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh on August 20. The CBI, which is investigating Dabholkar’s murder, had arrested alleged Sanatan Sanstha seeker, Dr Virendra Tawde, on June 10, 2016. Along with Tawde, CBI named Sanatan Sanstha seekers Vinay Pawar, who has been absconding since 2009, and Sarang Akolkar, who is also wanted in connection with the October 2009 Goa blast case, as prime suspects. According to CBI officials, Akolkar and Pawar had shot Dabholkar.