Pune has always remained a major centre of operation for the Sanatan Sanstha, a radical Hindu group now under the spotlight in connection with the murder of rationalist Govind Pansare. Its office in the Swastishree building on the Sinhagad Road is mainly used for the work related to its mouthpiece Sanatan Prabhat.
After the 2009 Margao blast, police had arrested six Sanstha members, while three — Sarang Dilip Akolkar, Rudra Patil of Sangli and Jay Prakash alias Anna of Mangalore — were never caught. Akolkar was the Pune district convener of its sister-outfit, the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS).
The many campaigns he co-ordinated for the HJS in Pune included the one against Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire in 2009. While Akolkar is still absconding, a special court at Mapusa, Goa, had acquitted all six Sanstha members in December, 2013. Sanstha members believe that even Gaikwad, arrested in the Pansare murder case, will be freed.
“We are against terrorism. Falsely implicating our members will not stop our work,” said Shambhu Gavare, a mechanical engineer, who cordinates the activities of Sanatan Sanstha in Pune.