Hindu right-wing Sanatan Sanstha member Rudra Patil, a suspect in leftist Govind Pansare’s murder, was in a continues touch with the mastermind of the 2009 Goa bomb blast, police said.
The Maharashtra Police Special Investigation Team (SIT) said, Patil, who has been on the run since the 2009 improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Goa, is one of the main suspects in Pansare’s murder.
Police also said that Patil was in telephonic touch with 32-year-old Sameer Gaikwad, a member of the Sanstha, who was also arrested in the Pansare murder case.
However, a statement by the Sanatan Sanstha said, “Sameer Gaikwad, arrested by police in case of the killing of comrade Govind Pansare from Kolhapur, is a full-time seeker of Sanatan Sanstha, and we are sure that he is innocent.”
Police in Maharashtra arrested a suspect having links with right-wing groups from Sangli town on 16 September in connection with the killing of senior rationalist leader Govind Pansare.
A probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the blast on Diwali at South Goa’s Margao town revealed that Rudra Patil was in touch with the mastermind Malgonda Patil, who died in the explosion.
On 16 October 2009, Malgonda Patil and Yogesh Naik, both full-time members of the Goa-based Sanatan Sanstha, died while ferrying IEDs on their scooter to a Diwali gathering in Margao, located 35 km from Panaji.
The Sanstha has strongly opposed organisation of Narakasura Vadh celebration during Diwali, insisting it ends up glorifying the demon rather his slayer, Lord Krishna.
NIA official familiar with the probe said on the condition of anonymity, “Malgonda was putting the plan together. We believe he was taking instructions from someone.”
Founded by the United Kingdom-returned clinical hypnotherapist Jayant Athavale, the Sanatan Sanstha is headquartered in Ramnathi, in Ponda, known for a cluster of popular temples.
The Sanstha has several thousand members, primarily from Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka, and also publishes a newspaper and a range of magazines and books.
Several top politicians, including some cabinet ministers in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led coalition cabinet have backed the organisation in public fora.
Pansare was killed on 16 February in Kolhapur while going for a morning walk with his wife. Pansare, 81, died of bullet injuries four days later after he was shot.