The Shiv Sena on Monday came out strongly in support of the right-wing outfit, Sanatan Sanstha, amid demands for a ban on the organisation for its alleged role in the murder of rationalist and communist leader Govind Pansare. Meanwhile, the interrogation of Sameer Gaikwad, an active member of the organisation who was arrested last week in connection with the murder, revealed a potential threat to Mumbai journalist Nikhil Wagle, said police sources.
The Sena, in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamna, seen as the view of party chief Uddhav Thackeray, slammed “self-styled liberals and progressive people”, along with the Congress and communist parties, for demanding a ban on the organisation, which was earlier mired in controversy over explosions at Thane and Goa. The Sena’s support to the sanstha, which champions the cause of Hindutva, similar to the saffron party, comes at a time when the BJP-led government in the state has arrested a member of the outfit, Gaikwad. The police have allegedly established Gaikwad’s link with Rudra Patil, another member of the sanstha and an accused in the 2010 Goa blast.
The party’s stand is in complete contrast to its editorial in the mouthpiece last week, in which the Sena slammed right-wing organisations for their “attempt to throttle dissent in the country” by attacking people like Pansare, rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar and Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi.
In its editorial on Monday, the Sena also spoke about arrested right-wing radicals like Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Colonel Shrikant Purohit, asking why "the liberals" haven’t raised their voice to get them bail.
Terming the demand ‘laughable’, the editorial said, “As Gaikwad has been associated with the sanstha’s activities, various quarters have started demanding that he be hanged and the sanstha be banned. Then, why not ban the Raza Academy, whose members vandalised the Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial and took law in their hands?”
The edit piece lashed out at rival political groups, stating how they could be banned using the same logic. “By this logic, should we also ban the Congress for their role in concealing the real reason behind Netaji’s death? Why is no one demanding a ban on the AIMIM, despite Akbaruddin Owaisi's open threat to Hindus?”
Meanwhile, Deven Bharti, joint commissioner of police, law and order, said Wagle was under police protection, but refused to elaborate on it. Wagle had been given police protection since 2011, and his security cover was reviewed after Pansare’s murder in February. Wagle remained unavailable for comment.
About the Sanatan Sanstha
With the arrest of one of its activists, Sameer Gaikwad, fringe group Sanatan Sanstha is once again under the scanner. A look at the group that claims it has its basis in Hindu spirituality and the other groups affiliated to it.
Was set up on March 24, 1999, to provide spiritual and religious education, explain religious mysticism in scientific terms to Hindus and to help set up an ideal Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation). The organisation welcomes ‘seekers’ who are keen on walking the spiritual path. It has ashrams in Panvel and Miraj in Maharashtra besides headquarters in Ponda, Goa. It maintains good relations with all right wing groups, including Shriram Sene, Bajrang Dal, VHP, RSS and Hindu Mahasabha.
Founder : Dr Jayant Balaji Athawale, a trained clinical psychiatrist and a hypnotherapist. Athawale graduated from Grant Medical College, Mumbai, and studied in Britain for seven years. He dedicated himself to spirituality from 1995.
Hindu Janjagruti Samiti
Considered an umbrella organisation, which includes Sanatan Sanstha, HJS was set up on October 7, 2002, to establish a Hindu Rashtra and ‘bring back glory to the Holy Land’. From 2012-13, it has been organising All India Hindu Conventions bringing together all right wing Hindutva organisations on one platform. In 2013, such conventions were held in 10 states. It also takes up agitations and protests against ‘anti Hindu’ activities ranging from love jihad to religious conversions. The big plan is to set up the Hindu Rashtra by 2023.
Founder : Dr Jayant Balaji Athawale. The organisation’s national guide is Dr Charudutta Pingale, a former ENT specialist, whose spiritual guru was Dr Athawale. It has its base in Goa and Maharashtra.
Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad
An organisation of ‘devout Hindu lawyers’ set up in 2012 at the first All India Hindu Summit organised by HJS. The organisation was set up to work for the Hindu dharma and cause and to protect Hindutva workers so that they can further the cause of the religion. The organisation works pro bono for the cause of Hindutva and has represented former Gujarat top cop DG Vanzara in the Sohrabuddin encounter case and Sanatan activists in the Madgaon blasts. It also pursued certain cases suo motu such as filing petitions, demolishing illegal mosques and Bangladeshi slums, forcible conversions and so on.