The arrest of Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS) activist Dr Virendra Tawade was termed as a ‘welcome move’ by Narendra Dabholkar’s family while opposition parties Congress and NCP remained largely silent.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday arrested Tawade from his residence at Panvel .
Tawade, an ENT specialist, is accused of conspiring in the murder of rationalist and anti-superstition crusader Dabholkar.
Dabholkar’s son Hamid said, “The CBI has taken a step in right direction. We hope that the probe agency will now reach to the main brain behind the murder.”
Dabholkar’s daughter Mukta said Tawade’s arrest is an outcome of a CBI investigation on the instructions of the Bombay high court, which has been monitoring the case.
The case is being monitored by the Bombay high court after Dabholkar’s family said it lacks confidence in the investigation.
The arrest of Tawade by the CBI, almost three years after Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune, is likely to provide political mileage to the BJP government in the state and the centre, who are battling against the perception that the government won’t take action against members of Hindu rightwing groups.
“The arrest shows that given a chance by political establishments, our investigating agencies can probe the matter effectively,” said Hamid.
Following the arrest, former Maharastra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan called for a ban on Sanatan Sanstha.
The BJP expressed satisfaction over the arrest. Maharashtra finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said, “I am happy that the probe has gone ahead and suspect has been arrested. The arrest shows that the government is not shielding anyone behind the murder.”
Blaming the UPA regime for failing to prevent the murders of rationalists including Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi, Aam Admi Party leader Ashish Khaitan said, latest arrest gives hope that justice will be done. “Tawade’s arrest gives some hope that justice shall be done. Murders of Pansare, Dabholkar Kalburgi cd hv been prevented. But UPA failed them (Sic),” tweeted Khaitan.
Pansare, senior CPI leader, was attacked on February 2, 2015. Four days later, the leftist leader succumbed to bullet injuries and after investigating the murder for over a year, the police arrested Sameer Gaikwad, also a Sanatan activist. Kalburgi, a Kannada writer, was gunned down in August 2015 by unidentified persons.
Joy Das, a political commentator, tweeted, “Credit were due. Good work by CBI and BJP in nabbing saffron terrorists.”
Social activist, Vidya Bal, said the arrest has restored her confidence in the system. Political observers felt that the arrest of Tawade and Gaikwad has helped the BJP to improve its image and is fuelled by the UPA’s failure.
Sanatan Sanstha, founded in 1999 by psychiatrist Dr Jayant Balaji Athavale, was initially involved in organising meetings and circulating its mouthpiece Sanatan Prabhat to propagate Hinduism.
Even though Sanatan Sanstha and HJS are Hindu rightwing groups, their relationship with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is strained, as the groups had accused RSS of hypocrisy over religious issues.