Congress Says Sanatan Sanstha 'Terror Outfit', Goa CM Rejects Ban

PANAJI: The Congress has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to list Goa-headquartered Hindu right wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha as a "terror outfit", even as Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Wednesday rejected a demand from his own party legislator to ban the group.

The Sanstha, whose members are being accused by police in Maharashtra and Karnataka of killing Leftist leader Govind Pansare in Kolhapur in February this year, has scoffed at the demands for a ban.

Interacting with reporters at the state secretariat on Wednesday, Parsekar said that as of now, only individuals working for the Sanstha were being probed for the killing of Pansare and not the organisation, while justifying his rejection of the demand for a ban on the organisation.

"There have been allegations against them in Maharashtra, but as far as their functioning in Goa is concerned, there is nothing which we have found objectionable. They have not created any controversy," Parsekar said.

He said a case against eight members of the organisation in connection with a 2009 blast in south Goa's Margao town, had fallen through, because "concrete proof could not come out".

While six Sanstha members were acquitted, two other accused including Rudra Patil, who is wanted in the Pansare murder, are still absconding.

The Congress in Goa, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanded that the Sanstha be branded a "terror outfit", because of the means allegedly used by its members to silence exponents of opposing ideologies.

"We demand declaring the Sanatan Sanstha as a terrorist organisation and shutting down their terrorist camp at Ramnathi Ponda immediately and freezing all their assets including bank accounts and probing their source of funding," Congress spokesperson Sunil Kawthankar said.

On Tuesday, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party legislator from St. Andre constituency Vishnu Wagh demanded a ban on the Sanstha, headquartered in Ramnathi village, 35 km from Panaji, for allegedly spreading terror.

"In a democracy, there is no scope for violence. All those who try to use bullets to threaten the voice of opposition are terrorists, because they try to frighten the opposition. It is evident in the Pansare and the Kalburgi cases that the Sanatan Sanstha are doing just that. Their hand is evident in these cases," alleged Wagh, known to be close to the chief minister.

Kannada scholar M.M. Kalburgi was shot dead by unidentified men on August 30.

Wagh said that if the Goa government banned Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik from entering the state, based on the arson at a pub in Mangaluru in 2009, then a ban on the Sanatan Sanstha was also warranted.

"Two ministers in the government are protecting them. The chief minister should take a view of the matter," Wagh said, without taking names.

Virendra Marathe, the managing trustee of the Sanstha, in a statement issued here called the demand for a ban by Wagh "ridiculous", but backed Parsekar's defence of the organisation.

"Wagh is not towing the line of the party, whose chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar rightly said that it is not right to ban an organisation because of mistakes committed by one of its members," Marathe said.

Founded by clinical hypnotherapist Jayant Athavale, the Sanatan Sanstha has several thousand members primarily from Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Many top politicians, including two ministers in the BJP-led coalition in Goa have backed the organisation in public fora, a fact acknowledged by Wagh.

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