The Maharashtra government sent a proposal to the Centre recommending a ban on right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha, Minister of State for Home (Rural) Deepak Kesarkar told the Maharashtra Legislative Council Thursday.
Replying to a supplementary question in the Upper House on a calling attention motion moved by NCP legislator Vidya Chavan regarding the probe into the murders of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and veteran Communist leader Govind Pansare, Kesarkar said a proposal to impose a ban on Sanstha had been sent to the Centre under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The minister, however, told The Indian Express later that the proposal he was referring to was made by the previous Congress-NCP government in 2011. Under Section 35 of the UAPA, the Centre is empowered to add an outfit to the list of terror organisations and impose a ban on its activities.
Chavan argued that there was no progress in the murder investigations and some of the suspects were not arrested even after four years. Rejecting her arguments, Kesarkar said, “While Dabholkar’s case has been investigated by the CBI, in Pansare’s case, an FIR was registered at Rajarampuri police station in Kolhapur and two persons, namely Samir Gaikwad and Virendra Tawde, had been arrested in the case. The police have even filed a chargesheet against the duo.” He said the government could issue a notice to attach properties of the absconding accused to force them to surrender. To this, Chavan argued that Sanstha advocate Sanjeev Punalekar had issued veiled threats to witnesses.
Kesarkar assured the House that the government would provide protection to anyone getting such threats. He added: “The government will have to check whether action can be taken against the Sanatan Sanstha advocate. However, we will take steps to stop use of illegal fire arms across the state.”
A request to the Centre to include Sanatan Sanstha as a terrorist organisation under the UAPA was made by the Maharashtra ATS too in 2012. In an affidavit, the state had then referred to three cases against Sanstha members regarding bomb blasts to justify seeking a ban on it.
However, during the hearing of a PIL in February 2017, the Central government had told the Bombay High Court that the evidence and other material sent by the state government were not conclusive and that it could hence not declare the organisation a terror outfit.