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Rediff.com  » News » Maharashtra: Right-wing outfits cry foul against plea to ban them

Maharashtra: Right-wing outfits cry foul against plea to ban them

November 14, 2012 15:20 IST

In an affidavit before the Bombay high court, the Maharashtra government has stated that it has sought a ban on right-wing outfit Sanathan Sanstha under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The state government is yet to take a decision on Abhinav Bharat, another right-wing organisation.

Sources in the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, which recommended the ban, said that the agency had found that Sanathan Sanstha was involved in the blasts at suburban Thane and Panvel, on the outskirts of Mumbai.

"The organisation was also linked to the attack in Goa, after which we found it necessary to make such a recommendation. We are collecting more evidence about Abhinav Bharat. Soon, a formal recommendation will be made," said the official.

Meanwhile, the Sanathan Sanstha has reacted sharply to this affidavit.

"Why has the name of Sanathan Sanstha come up when the petition before the Bombay high court was dealing with Abhinav Bharat," spokesperson for the Sanstha Abhay Vartak told rediff.com.

He clarified that the Sanstha was not linked to Abhinav Bharat.

"The state government has clarified in the affidavit that a proposal to ban Sanathan Sanstha has been forwarded to the central government. The state government has initiated this action to defame Sanathan Sanstha and curb its efforts to unite nationalist Hindus. We are investigating under what kind of false and misleading information the state government has submitted the proposal to ban the Sanstha. We have neither indulged in anti-national activities nor committed a crime," Vartak said.

He claimed that, "Many highly qualified and respectable citizens are performing sadhana under the guidance of Sanathan Sanstha. The activities of Sanathan Sanstha are expanding at great speed. The Sanstha has constantly exposed the injustice meted out to Hindus by the ruling Maharashtra government. This proposal to ban Sanathan Sanstha has been drawn up with an ulterior motive. The UPA government has a history of persecuting nationalist citizens by misusing its powers. The Sanathan Sanstha will not silently tolerate its defamation by the government". 

Vartak also pointed out that leaders of the Sanstha had recently met Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil and requested him to personally inspect the activities of their organisation. They had urged him against arriving at a conclusion too soon.

However, Patil turned down their request, the Sanstha spokesperson said.

ATS officials have a different take on the matter.

"Scores of arrests have been made and we have a clear indication regarding their activities. We did our best to curb their activities, but they have become widespread in the state and neighbouring areas. It is important that a ban is imposed in order to maintain law and order," said the official.

The Bombay high court, during a recent hearing, had sought to know why a ban had not been imposed on Abhinav Bharat despite the court's directive issued a year ago. The government had informed the court that the Maharashtra police had urged the state government to include these organisations under the Schedule of Terrorist Organisations under Section 35 of the UAPA.

The case against Abhinav Bharat does not appear to be very simple and there is enough confusion about the name of the organisation.

The Abhinav Bharat, a public charitable trust, has submitted a petition before the high court saying it was an older organisation and had no links with the right-wing Abhinav Bharat, whose members were arrested in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blasts. The Trust had moved court in 2009 against the use of the name Abhinav Bharat.

The court, in a lighter vein, had suggested that the organisation should change its name in order to avoid confusion.

Colonel S Purohit, who was arrested in connection to the Malegaon blasts, was alleged to be a member of Abhinav Bharat. In his deposition before an army court, he claimed that he had joined the group to find out more about their activities while being undercover.

The ATS has refused to buy Colonel Purohit's story and is firm on taking the case to trial court.  Once the investigation against Purohit and his accomplices is complete, a decision on Abhinav Bharat is likely to be made by the state government, the official said.

Vicky Nanjappa