Bharat Bachao Andolan, a loose-knit organisation, with several Leftists, Communists and others, most of who are into activism, raised a rallying cry asking the government to ban the Sanatan Sanstha (SS) and arrest its mastermind Dr Jayant Athavale.
Speakers at a media conference held on Thursday afternoon at Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh at Azad Maidan said there has been, “An astounding series of events recently that have led the investigative agencies to uncover an extremely dangerous terror plot, right here in Nalasopara with its tentacles spread all across Maharashtra and with connections across many states.”
Activist Firoze Mithiborwala, slammed those seeking to play down the terror threat of SS by terming them and other dangerous Hindutva organisations as, “fringe elements.”
Mithiborwala felt the term “diminishes the scale and threat overall. This is no fringe because that word gives an impression that there are five persons sitting in a corner planning disruption. This is much bigger than that.”
Mithiborwala pointed to slain Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare’s and the NIA investigations which “uncovered terror networks and arrested individuals who are members of well-known right-wing Hindutva organisations.”
The assassinations of Gauri Lankesh, Dr Narendra Dhabolkar, Prof Kalburgi and Comrade Govind Pansare, threw a long shadow over the meet, with speakers saying, “Key suspects come from rightwing Hindu organisations.”
Activist Jatin Desai said, “The police need to interrogate Dr Athavale. Post interrogation, if there is a case, they should arrest him.” Desai also asked why the SS has not been banned yet.
“We will take to the streets if Sanatan is not banned,” he said. Firebrand journalist Nikhil Wagle on the panel of speakers slammed the SS saying,
“It is a terrorist organisation. I have experienced the terror it can wreak from Madgaon to Thane. Who stores bombs and pistols and detonators in their home? If Zakir Naik has been banned, SIMI has been banned then why not SS?”
The journalist added that he would call them, “Hindutva terrorists. It would be insulting to call them Hindu.” Wagle added, “We are determined to take this to its logical conclusion and will protest peacefully on the streets if need be.”
Speaker Charul Joshi rued the “climate of fear, with the state turning a blind eye to the atmosphere.” Activist Jyoti Badekar said, “Those who defend the SS have a definition of terrorism that I have no clue about. The SS has to be looked at much more seriously.”
Even as Badekar was finishing, Tushar Gandhi entered the room and took the mike, saying, “Civil society cannot be quiet today. I am against all and any kind of ban but the SS and linked groups need to be socially boycotted, like the Ku Klux Klan has been in the USA.”
As the interactive session with its questions unfolded, Wagle said, “One saw several Shiv Sainiks within SS supporters. I tell Uddhav Thackeray not to support the SS, if you believe in the ideology of Prabodhankar Thackeray.”
In the end, the panelists said, “Religious inspired violence and terror are a global reality and one should condemn all whether Hindu, Islamic or any other variant of religious terrorism.”
This panel insisted that terrorism does have a religion. The conference closed to clamour as the press rushed forward for exclusive pictures, as the panellists handed out press notes which said prominently,
“Both the Congress-UPA and the BJP-NDA govts have been obfuscating the matter of cracking down on several Hindutva terrorist organisations despite all obvious evidence.”