The Maharashtra government had sent a 1000-page proposal to the United Progressive Alliance government seeking a ban on right wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha in 2010-11, said former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. However, for some reasons, despite the correspondence, which moved back and forth, the centre did not enforce the ban, he said.
In an interview to The Indian Express, Chavan said, “I feel had the centre taken the decision to enforce the ban, we could have prevented the killings of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi.”
Social activitist Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune, communist leader Govind Pansare was killed in Kolhapur and noted scholar M M Kalburgi was killed in Dharwad in Karnataka. The hand of Sanatan Sanstha members is suspected in the killings.
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Chavan said, “Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis should pursue the ban on Sanatan Sanstha. I believe the state government should also coordinate with the government of Karnataka on the matter. As there appears a common thread as pointed by investigating agencies in the killing of Dabhol-kar, Pansare and Kalburgi.”
Chavan, who also served in the PMO in the past, said, “The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had made the proposal with adequate documentary proof to substantiate how the organisation was linked to terror activities. The ATS urged my government to enforce the ban.”
Chavan led the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra between 2010-2014. “We submitted the proposal to the Union home ministry. However, the then Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde did not take the matter to its logical conclusion. There were a lot of to and fro exchange of information between offices of the Union home minister and the state government. I guess, in the year 2013-14, everybody got busy with assembly and Parliament elections and the decision was put on hold,” Chavan said.
While clarifying that he did not want to put the blame on anybody, Chavan said, “When I reflect on developments that led to killing of Dhabolkar, Pansare and Kalburgi, I feel there appears a pattern, as suspected by investigating agencies. Therefore, I feel, ban on Sanatan should have been done long ago.”
Chavan further said, “I must mention that between 2010-14, union home ministry had neither rejected our proposal nor given it a commitment to carry out the ban. To the best of my knowledge, they never said no or yes to the ban. I remember, they kept seeking more information on certain issues and we kept providing them the details. Our demand for a ban was under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, section (3) which allows ban on any organisation involved in carrying out activities which are against the national interest.”
“The ATS report was based on a probe into the bomb blasts in Panvel. It pointed to the role of Sanatan Sanstha activists,” the former chief minister said. Chavan, who had differences with alliance partner NCP on some issues, added, “When it came to a ban on the Sanatan Sanstha, we had the support of the then home minister RR Patil. I don’t think we ever had any differences on this issue.”
Revealing the findings of the ATS report, Chavan further said, “It had clearly mentioned that Sanatan Sanstha is a dangerous organisation and involved in violence and hate activities.”