In a startling revelation, a former police office investigating the role of Sanatan Sanstha in the Margao bomb blasts case, has said that journalist Gauri Lankesh would have been alive if the state’s BJP-led government had acted on his advice to ban the organisation.
CL Patil, who was posted at the Ponda Police Station as SHO and investigated the case, told India Today that he had recommended banning the Hindutva outfit but his suggestion was shot down by his bosses in the police dept.
He said the Hindutva outfit would have been banned long back had it not been for political pressure. Explaining why he proposed banning of the Sanatan Sanstha, Patil said, “What happened in Margao (bomb blasts in 2009) and similar incidents in Maharashtra, there were seven-eight cases against them. They were indicative of a dangerous trend to create communal disturbances. I had written in my proposal to ban Sanatan Sanstha since Goa is a peaceful state.”
Sanatan Sanstha is headquartered in Ponda in Goa. Patil said that the Hindutva outfit was backed by powerful politicians adding that no one including the police could get inside their headquarter. He said all inquiries against them ‘fell silent’ in the name of religion and God. “The ministry and law enforcement both are involved (in shielding the Sanatan Sanstha).
Patil added that the wife of one of the powerful ministers in Goa’s ruling coalition was part of the Sanstha. India Today said it was withholding the identity of the minister since it was awaiting a response from him. He’s a senior cabinet colleague of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Patil said, “His wife and sister-in-law run Sanatan Sanstha.”
Maragao blasts were intended to stir communal riots in the western Indian coastal state but the IED exploded prematurely, leaving two of the Sanatan Sanstha handlers including one Athavle dead.
Over a dozen people, all belonging to Sanatan Sanstha, have been arrested in connection with Lankesh’s murder. One of them is Amit Degvekar, who shared the same room as one Athavle, who was killed while planting the bomb in Margao in 2009. “If we had arrested them immediately after 2009, these three-four murders would have been prevented,” he said.
Salim Shaikh, an inspector with Goa’s ATS, too spoke about a minister’s link with the Sanstha. Shaikh said, “His (the minister’s) wife has an active role in the functioning of Sanatan Sanstha. Not just now, but for quite some time.”
Members of the Hindutva outfit are alleged to have killed Gauri Lankesh, scholars Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) October 8, 2018
Acquitted of their alleged role in bomb blasts outside Maharashtra theatres in 2008, two sadhaks of the militant Hindutva outfit also made startling confessions to India Today TV’s special investigation team about their involvement in the terror attacks.
Mangesh Dinkar Nikam, who was acquitted by the trial court seven years ago in connection with the 2008 bomb attacks in Thane, Panvel and Vashi, admitted on camera that he did plant the explosives.
45-year-old Nikam admitted that the bomb, which was defused by disposal squads, aimed to avenge what he called was “wrongful depiction of Hindu gods and goddesses” in a Marathi play running at the targeted Vashi theatre.
“I was at Vashi. I planted it [the IED] and came out. That was my role,” he confessed to the undercover reporters who met him at his home in Satara district.
“I had planted that one.” Nikam said referring to the explosive planted in Vashi. “In the [Vashi] case in which we were involved, people were parodying our gods and goddesses [in the play]. So we tried to stop it, nothing else.”