While the Maharashtra government has decided to revive its efforts to ban the Sanatan Sanstha and dashed off a letter to the Union Home Ministry in the regard, there seems to be no similar effort from the Goa government in spite of a clarion call by several intellectuals and NGOs.
With several senior Goa Ministers ailing or in hospital, including Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar who is in the US for treatment, the Goa government is itself handicapped. No fresh decisions can be taken and the bureaucracy is running the wheels of the government machinery via remote control and email.
In Maharashtra, immediately after the arrest of Nala Sopara-based Vaibhav Raut, a suspected member of Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha, and two others, all affiliated to sister outfits of the Sanatan, the home department has decided to remind the union government of a proposal about banning the Sanatan, which is pending with the union home ministry since 2015.
An official from the home department said, “After the arrest of Raut, we have taken serious note of the Sanstha. We have decided to send a letter to the union ministry seeking the status of the proposed ban.”
The erstwhile Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government had sent one such proposal in 2008 and in 2011 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act; however, it was rejected by the union home ministry.
The Devendra Fadnavis-led government sent a fresh proposal on November 13, 2015, to the union home ministry regarding the ban, but it is still in limbo.
Prominent activists in Goa termed the right-wing Sanatan Sanstha an “extra-constitutional authority” and a “cancer” whose spread should be stopped, Goan activists have demanded a ban on it.
The latest catalyst for the demand comes after inputs of a threat to the life of progressive Goa-based writer Damodar Mauzo.
A special investigation team (SIT) of the Karnataka police, which is probing the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru last September, informed the Goa police about the threat to Mauzo’s life.
Stressing on the need for such a move, Prashant Naik, a social activist, told PTI that legal luminaries should be roped in by the state government to place before the court the need for a ban. “We lost an ‘open-and-shut’ 2009 Margao blast case due to poor legal support during the trial,” he pointed out.
Two men, including one allegedly from the Sanatan Sanstha, died in 2009 while they were transporting explosives to be reportedly planted in a crowded area in Margao. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had charge-sheeted half-a- dozen activists of the Sanstha, but the accused were acquitted by a local court due to lack of evidence.
“The way the Sanatan Sanstha is going about spreading hatred in the society, it should be banned,” Naik added.
The demand was echoed by state Congress president Girish Chodankar. “The Sanatan Sanstha or any organisation that behaves like an extra-constitutional authority should be banned,” he said, highlighting that it had been named in the murder of progressive intellectuals like M M Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and Lankesh.
“When its name figures in all these murder cases, there is no reason why it should be allowed to continue functioning,” the Congress leader said.
Among the prominent institutions of Goa that have demanded a ban on the Sanstha is the Konkani Bhasha Mandal (KBM) – the state’s leading literary institution.
Referring to the threat to Mauzo’s life, the KBM president, Chetan Acharya, said it was the first time that a writer had been threatened in the coastal state.
“Goa is known for its peaceful co-existence and we dont want institutions like the Sanatan Sanstha which work like extra-constitutional bodies,” Acharya said. “We strongly demand a ban on it so that it can’t spread hatred in Goa any further.”