Sanatan Sanstha decries being linked to Gauri Lankesh murder, blames ‘leftists’
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Sanatan Sanstha decries being linked to Gauri Lankesh murder, blames ‘leftists’

The SIT probing the journalist’s murder said they are yet to make a significant breakthrough, though they are working hard on some leads.

karnataka Updated: Sep 21, 2017 20:33 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Sanatan Sanstha,Gauri Lankesh,SIT
Writers and social activists protest the murder of Gauri Lankesh at Jalandhar recently. (Pardeep Pandit/HT Photo)

Hindu right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha on Thursday decried attempts to link it to the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, and accused “leftists” of trying to bring disrepute to the organisation.

Addressing mediapersons at a press conference held in Bengaluru, Sanstha leader Chetan Rajhans claimed that blaming his group was the natural reaction of liberal activists to such incidents. “Some media groups claimed that the special investigation team (SIT) visited our ashram in Goa. This is completely untrue. If they want to question us, we are willing to participate,” he said, requesting Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah to conduct a fair and “non-political” probe into the case.

Lankesh, an anti-right crusader, was shot dead outside her house on September 5. The culprits are yet to be identified.

Sanjiv Punalekar, advocate and Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad national secretary, said political detractors began accusing the Sanstha of Lankesh’s murder even before the SIT was formed. Such reports were part of the “saffron terror bogie” that was being raised across the country, he added.

“The organisation is being blamed (on the Sanatan Sanstha) because of alleged similarities in the murders of (Narendra) Dabholkar, (Govind) Pansare, (MM) Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. They say a similar gun was used. But then, the 7.65 mm pistol is a commonly available gun,” said Punalekar.

Advocate Virendra Ichalkaranjikar asked the SIT to refrain from adopting a similar method based on the notion that the modus operandi was similar in all the cases. “The SIT must not fall into the trap laid by the families of Dabholkar and Pansare. They are the ones stoking this controversy,” said Ichalkaranjikar, who represents Sanstha member Samir Gaikwad – the prime accused in the Pansare murder case – in court.

Punalekar said investigators had not looked into a certain Maoist angle to the murders of Pansare and Dabholkar. He also took potshots at the BJP government in Maharashtra, stating that it was playing into the hands of “progressives”with the sole intent of gaining votes. “Nobody supports us because we are not part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the BJP,” he said.

Punalekar said he was unhappy that Vinay Pawar, wanted in connection with Dabholkar’s murder, and Rudra Patil, prime accused in the Kalburgi case, were absconding. “I believe people should come forward when they are named in a case. It is unfortunate that these two absconded, but that’s probably because they don’t believe justice will be done.”

When asked if the duo were members of the Sanatan Sanstha, Rajhans said there was no concept of membership in the group. “Everybody here is a volunteer who helps out at the ashram,” he clarified.

Probe inches on

Meanwhile, the SIT probing Lankesh’s murder is yet to make any significant breakthrough. “But we are working hard on some leads. For instance, we are poring through around six crore calls made in the area over five days leading up to the murder. We might get something from this,” a police officer said.

He said they have obtained some vehicular clues too, but revealing too much would only serve to alert the accused.

The officer denied reports that the SIT had prepared a sketch of the shooter. “How’s that even possible when the person was wearing a helmet?” he asked.

First Published: Sep 21, 2017 20:31 IST