ATS officers and senior police official who had probed Sanatan Sanstha for their alleged role in Margao blast, said to India Today reporters that their probe was hindered by political pressure
Two senior police officials revealed to India Today that Sanatan Sanstha would have been banned nine years ago but it was saved because of powerful political pressure.
Had they been banned, the murders of Journalist Gauri Lankesh, scholars Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar could have been avoided.
In the year 2009, two members of Sanatan Sanstha were killed when the bomb they were attempting to plant at Goa’s Margao exploded prematurely.
ATS officers and senior police official who had probed Hindutva outfit Sanatan Sanstha for their alleged role in Margao blast, said to India Today reporters that their probe was hindered by political pressure.
He asserted that his proposal of banning the organisation was rejected.“There is political pressure. Had there been no political pressure, it would have been banned long back,” said CL Patil, then SHO in Ponda, where the Sanatan Sanstha is headquartered.
After the India Today investigation revealed the right-wing Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha’s role in terror activities, the website of the organisation revealed the names and photos of journalists who carried out the investigation, alleged India Today news anchor and director Rahul Kanwal. He posted on Twitter:
After being exposed by @IndiaToday in #SanatanTerrorSanstha tapes Sanatan now releases names & photos of our investigative reporters on their website asking supporters to hunt us down. If these people think such intimidatory tactics can scare us, they have another thing coming!
Key takeaways from the Sanatan Sanstha probe:
- Ponda SHO Patil said that there have been several other incidents, including the Margao one. There are at least 8 cases against them in Maharashtra. He was of the opinion that organisations which disturb communal harmony should get shut
- The recommendation to ban Sanatan Sanstha was sent to the DGP, but it was sent back. The ministry and the law enforcement are both involved
- While Patil named a powerful BJP leader from Goa’s ruling coalition at whose behest, the organisation was not banned, India Today has withheld the name of the politician, pending clarification from BJP. This politician’s wife is the manager of Sanstha; his sister-in-law is also involved.
- Around 12 people have been arrested for the murder of Gauri Lankesh and Amit Degvekar is one of them. The records which were accessed by India Today show the Sanatan Sanstha headquarters in Ponda, Goa as his residential address.
- CL Patil said the suspect in Gauri Lankesh’s murder and Malgonda Patil, the man who died in the Margao blast, shared the same room, next to the Sanatan Sanstha founder Jayant Athavale’s, in Ponda
- Salim Shaikh, an ATS inspector in Goa, also spoke about the Sanatan Sanstha’s alleged nexus with powerful people. Salim also admitted that the family of a powerful BJP politician stopped a ban on the Sanatan Sanstha
- CBI investigators suspect that several members involved in planning of the 2009 Margao blast — now absconding — are involved in the murders of Lankesh in 2017, Pansare and Kalburgi in 2015 and of Dabholkar in 2013.
- The India Today investigation, shows one of the suspects, Mangesh Dinkar Nikam, in the 2008 bomb attacks in Thane, Panvel and Vashi, admitting on camera that he did plant the explosives. He was acquitted by the trial court seven years ago in the case. The India Today reporters met him at his home in Satara district
- Sanatan Sanstha member Haribhau Krishnna Divekar, 58, revealed that his involvement in 2008 bomb attacks was much larger than what he had been prosecuted for. He was acquitted on the grounds of insufficient evidence
- He claimed that when the police came to search his premises, he handed over a couple of revolvers, detonators, gelatin sticks and digital meters to them. ATS, however, didn’t record it in its chargesheet. They just took it away.