New Delhi: Sanatan Sanstha, the radical Hindu outfit allegedly linked to the murders of rationalist thinkers and activists, was all set to be banned by the UPA government in 2013, but the Congress-led coalition developed cold feet with Lok Sabha elections around the corner, News18 has learnt.
The revelation comes amid growing chorus from opposition parties, including the Congress, to ban the Goa-based outfit, whose members were allegedly involved in the killing of Left-leaning thinkers Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi and Govind Pansare.
Speaking to News18, Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said he had recommended a ban on the Sanatan Sanstha in 2011. “When I was the CM in April 2011, Maharashtra Police brought before me a lot of documentary evidence and a big dossier on this organisation. After studying it, we came to the conclusion that we should ban this organisation and sent a formal proposal to the Union Home Ministry,” Chavan said.
He said the deliberation on banning Sanatan Sanstha went on for two years and in 2013 documentary evidence was submitted to the Centre. “After a lot of correspondence, we sent a 1,000-page dossier in 2013 and it was being investigated by the Union Home Ministry,” the former CM said.
Confirming the same, a Home Ministry official told News18 that plans to ban the outfit was afoot in 2013. “A file was prepared, but the decision was not taken for political reasons,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
According to sources, the Congress party’s internal deliberations showed it was wary of being branded ‘anti-Hindu’ ahead of the 2014 General Elections.
Sanatan Sanstha spokesperson Shambhu Gaware has called the Congress demand to ban the organisation as “politically motivated”. “In the Madgaon case too, the Sanatan Sanstha was blamed, but all accessed were acquitted,” he said, referring to the 2009 blast in the Goa town.
Another Sanstha spokesperson Chetan Rajhans accused Chavan of “spreading rumours”. “Prithviraj Chavan has been spreading rumours that people with Right-wing ideology are involved in the Dabholkar murder case since before investigation began. The probe, therefore, has taken a wrong turn. Only time will tell whether there will be a ban on Sanstha or not, but Vikhe Patil (Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra) is going behind bars,” Rajhans said.
According to a former Union Home Secretary, there has been no formal proposal to ban the Sanstha in the last three-four years. “It is a work in progress. Intelligence Bureau inputs have to be collected. The evidence has to be good enough to stand judicial scrutiny if the ban is challenged in a tribunal,” he said.