Special Reports

Goa blast: Hindutva terror resurfaces

By Subhash Gatade

"Violence towards evildoers is non-violence itself" and "It is a sin not to slay an evildoer"!
- Jayant Athavale

1.
How much time does the powers that be need to make any significant move when they unearth a conspiracy hatched by a self proclaimed spiritual group to 'massacre dozens of innocent people' supposedly to vindicate their weltanshauung and instigate a communal riot? Do they keep quibbling over minor details and let the real masterminds obfuscate their obvious links with the executioners ? Do they keep talking in multiple voices and make themselves vulnerable over attacks by opposition parties supposedly for their 'dilly-dallying'?

It has been almost a week that one witnessed a blast in Margao, where two people belonging to 'Sanatan Sanstha' carrying explosives in their scooter were killed and another bomb was detected - around twenty kilometres from the first spot - in a truck carrying 40 youth and a Narkasur for competition -which exposed a sinister conspiracy to instigate communal riots, but one is yet to see any concrete step on part of the government to nab the real terrorists and break their wider network.

The home minister of Goa, Mr Ravi Naik had also categorically stated (Mail Today, 19 Oct 2009) that 'The Scooter on which the bombs were being carried belongs to Sanatan Sanstha. It seems to be a clear attempt to create communal discord in the state." Many senior police officers of the state had also expressed similar opinions. There was also talk of questioning wife of a cabinet minister herself because of her proximity to the extremist outfit including the proposal that government is contemplating ban on the controversial organisation.

The Herald, a prominent daily from Goa had rather voiced concerns of a vast majority of Goans (not to say  the majority of people in the subcontinent) when it asked the powers that be to (Herald, front-page editorial, 18 October 2009)  take urgent steps to curb this phenomenon and had also delineated the real objectives of the perpetrators :

The blast in Margao, as well as the one averted in Sancoale, have brought to the fore the ugly face of terrorism in Goa. Fortunately, the bomb exploded before it could be planted, killing Malgonda Patil and critically injuring Yogesh Naik, the terrorists who planned to massacre dozens of innocent people. The bomb in Sancoale was detected by an alert youth. Had it exploded where it was planted - in a truck carrying 40 youth and a Narkasur for a competition - it would have taken a large number of lives. Those who made and planted it are yet to be brought to justice.

This dastardly terrorist attack was, first, intended to target the Diwali Narkasur festival, which is unique to Goa and Goans, but which the Hindu fundamentalist Sanatan Sanstha denounces as a glorification of evil. The second objective, far more sinister, was to instigate religious riots in Margao, which has a history of communal tension. This cowardly attempt to hurt Goan traditions and destroy the State's communal harmony must be put down swiftly and decisively.

This is the second terrorist act linked to the Sanatan Sanstha, which is active mainly in Maharashtra and Goa, and has its national headquarters at Ramnathi. It is clear that if enough pressure is not put on the powers that be, it is possible that much on the lines of Kanpur blasts and Nanded blasts - which also witnessed deaths of Hindutva terrorists - this blast would also get erased from people's memory.


2.

For a layperson also it is easy to see how majoritarian terrorism has raised its ugly head after a brief lull in the aftermath of Malegaon bomb blast and the painstaking investigation undertaken by ATS Chief Hemant Karkare to nab the real culprits. It need not be underlined that this no nonsense officer was under tremendous pressure supposedly for going after top honchos of the Hindutva terrorism network. And looking back it is clear why he had asked for banning this organisation and its affiliated groups when he led the investigation in the Gadkari Rangayatan and similar other blasts which were engineered by activists associated with 'Sanatan Sanstha' and its affiliate 'Hindu Janjagruti Samity'. Karkare had forwarded the proposal some time before he was gunned down by terrorists in 26/11 terror attacks.

In fact if Maharashtra government had acted on a proposal forwarded by the Anti-Terrorism Squad last year, then one could have saved lot of innocent blood spilling on the streets..As of now a proposal to ban the Sanstha is pending with the Maharashtra government since last year, a top ATS officer is reported to have told the media.

To proscribe an organisation, the state government has to forward its proposal to the centre, which takes a call after considering the recommendations. This had not been done, official sources said.

On June 4, 2008, there was a blast in the basement parking of Gadkari Rangayatan in Thane where Marathi play Amhi Pachpute was being staged. Probe revealed that members of the Sanstha had threatened the playwright not to stage the play, which was a satire on Mahabharat.

Around the same time there were two minor blasts in theatres at Panvel and Vashi in Navi Mumbai where Hindi film Jodha Akbar was being screened. Investigations linked these blasts to Sanstha members.

Apart from its involvement in these terrorist acts, it is also being revealed that members of Sanatan Sanstha were also involved in Miraj riots too. (Express,  21 October, 2009). In fact Malgounda Patil, an active member of the Sanstha who was carrying explosives and died in the Goa blast, was in Miraj for two weeks when the construction of a controversial arch in the town sparked off communal riots.

The Superintendent of Police of Sangli Mr Krishna Prakash told Express reporter: "We had information that Sanatan Sanstha members were distributing weapons to Hindus during the riots. We had also seized a four-wheeler of the Sanatan Sanstha carrying swords and chains. Three Sanatan Sanstha members were arrested in the case." According to him they had earlier arrested a female member of Sanstha identified as Bhakti Joglekar, for distributing pamphlets with communal content and there are so far five offences against Sanatan Sanstha in Sangli...".

In an extensive coverage of the 'Whiff of Hindutva Terror in Goa' Mail Today (20 October 2009) tells us how 'Sanatan Sanstha is no stranger to communal conspiracies. From riots to bombing theatres, this organisation was allegedly involved in many acts of violence in Maharashtra before the bomb blasts in Goa ripped apart its spiritual facade" (“Outfit No Stranger to Communal Conspiracies,” Krishna Kumar), Of course, it does not forget to mention the BJP links of the fanatic group. " Like the Malegaon blasts, this case too has a BJP link. One of the Sanstha's top leaders in Miraj, Madhusudan Kulkarni, has been seen at political rallies of the party.In a thinly veiled argument on its website the Sanstha exhorts Hindus to attack Muslims and be better prepared during riots."


3.

For an organisation which is so ultra-sensitive about the slightest imagined insult to Hinduism - imagined or real - the literature of the Sanatan Sanstha is rife with attacks on other religions. Apart from valorising violence through its literature and actions, the organisations have achieved notoriety for abusing other religions and their prophets. e.g In one of its issues of Sanatan Prabhat (9 Dec. 2005) - a newspaper brought out by it from many districts in Maharashtra and Goa, it 'exposes the real nature of Bible' by calling it a 'manual for teaching immorality' which discusses in detail ' the rape of a sister by a brother'.  There are frequent references to the Bible, alleging that it promotes incest and other immoral practices.It is part of its usual practice to show a Pastor with horns whose sole agenda is proselytisation. In September 2004, 'Sanatan Prabhat' carried a statement saying that the body of St. Francis Xavier should be destroyed. It has also carried other scurrilous articles about Goa's patron saint. Its humiliation of Islam and Prophet Muhammad nearly created  a riot like situation in Miraj (first week of November 2005) and the imprisonment of the editor of 'Sanatan Prabhat'. Interestingly all talk of Hindu Unity in the worldview of HJS falls at the altar of caste and other regressive practices in our society.

Believers are exhorted to guide offenders away from the path of incorrect practice. The volumes in the series support the regressive and obscurantist practices of the past, including the caste system, talking repeatedly about the proper role of various castes in society (Herald, Panjim, 22 June 2008).

Herald  (22 June 2008) concludes with the observation: After having created an ideological framework which creates a fundamentalist mindset and makes it the 'duty' of the true seeker to defend the faith against all those who are projected as attacking it, it is disingenuous of the HJS and the SS to disclaim responsibility for the acts engaged in by their members. Ex-members of these organisations talk about the cult-like atmosphere that is created, with unquestioning obedience being stressed. Members are then brainwashed into believing that Hinduism is under siege. Against this background, and with all the talk about 'defence' and 'elimination of evildoers', it is hardly surprising that adherents begin to explore ways of taking direct action to defend the faith. In this regard, the philosophy of the HJS and the SS is not all that different from the philosophy of terrorists, whom they claim to oppose.


4.

In a detailed writeup in Goan Observer (“Protecting Hinduism: Sanatan Style,” 28 June 2008) Pradnya Gaonkar writes that the 'covert activities of self-professed protectors of Hinduism, the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti,' have been looked into. The author writes that "The Chief Minister, Digamber Kamat, and the Leader of the Opposition, Manohar Parrikar, not to mention the IGP Kishen Kumar should be more concerned over the terrorist activities of the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti than chasing imaginary naxalites." Apart from their strong presence in Goa at rural levels the author also brings to the fore the political patronage received by them at the highest levels.

The investigations done by Goan Observer  "revealed that Jyoti Sudin Dhavlikar, wife of the MGP leader and Transport Minister in the Digamber Kamat government Sudin Dhavlikar, is in charge of the Goa Unit of the Sanatan Sanstha. Goan Observer also understands that the IGP, Kishen Kumar, despite being directed to investigate the activities of the Sanatan Sanstha in Goa, did not follow it up seriously because of political pressure...The Marcaim MGP MLA, Sudin Dhavlikar, and his brother are crucial to the continued survival of the Digamber Kamat government which explains why the Chief Minister is not enthusiastic about investigating the credentials of the Sanatan Sanstha."

The Self Defence manual of the Sanatan Sanstha ".[w]hich is mandatory reading for its activists, reveals the insidious nature of the communal propaganda being carried out by the 'charitable organisation'. Surely, there can be nothing charitable about images showing young men in military uniform shooting dead a man typically dressed like a Muslim. The defence of course would be that the young men were shooting the 'Muslim', who is also shown armed, in self defence. The Sanatan Sanstha's Swasaunrakshan Prashikshan contains explicit instructions on what parts of the anatomy should be targeted for causing maximum damage, shows how the trishul can be used as an offensive weapon and has entire chapter on how to use air rifles. Except that the training imparted for using air rifles can be used for handling AK-47s also. The images of the activists wielding the gun shows them wearing t-shirts identifying them as soldiers of the Sanatan Sanstha and exhorts activists to kill 'evil' and uphold Hindu values."

The study also throws light on the process of indoctrination which follows a policy of targeting young minds and systematically brainwashing them. It is much on the lines of "...other Hindu fundamentalist organisations like the RSS, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The fact that the moving spirit, if not the founder of the Sansthan, Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale, was a clinical hypnotherapist has been reflected in the methodology adopted by the Sanatan Sanstha for indoctrinating and brainwashing young minds. Young people who attended the satsangs (weekly meets of the members of the SS) of the Sanstha narrate that they are required to fill pages with the name of the Kuldevta and obtain mental peace. The satsangs were cleverly packaged to convert young open minds into fanatical defenders of the Sanatan Sanstha version of dharma. The publication of the Sanstha revealed that it is committed to militant defence of Hinduism, which it claims is under threat not only from the minorities but from members of the Hindu community themselves who are either not conscious of the threat to Hinduism or not committed enough to Hinduism to aggressively protect it from real or imaginary threats."


5.

As we go to the press there are reports that joint teams set up to probe blasts across the country which still remain unresolved despite the initial clamour that they were handiwork of SIMI, recently interrogated at least three people on Monday (Hindustan Times, 20 Oct 2009) allegedly linked to Hindu right wing groups, in connection with the Samjhauta Express blasts.  ( 18 Feb. 2007). "Police sources said officers were trying to figure out whether Ramji Kalsangra ( main accused in the Sept 2008 Malegaon blast, who is still absconding) and Sunil Joshi, an RSS functionary who was shot dead in the neighbouring town of Dewas on 23 December 2007, were also behind the Samjhauta Express blast."

It may also be recalled that ATS chief Hemant Karkare was also looking into the links of the main accused in the Malegaon Bomb blast case Lieutenant Colonel Srikant Prasad Purohit with the perpetrators of the Gadkari Rangayatan and Panvel blasts before he was killed in the melee that followed the terrorist attack in Bombay.

There is no doubt that if he would have remained alive he would have moved ahead to unearth the hidden links between the different Hindutva groups who were engaged in terrorism - may it be of the Sanatan variety or the Abhinav Bharat-Bajrang Dal variety. It was not for nothing that Sangh Parivar, Shiv Sena and other fanatic Hindutva organisations continued to vilify him, continued to paint the accused in the Malegaon blast case as victims and tried every means to stymie investigations.

One just wishes that the investigations in the Goa blast do not follow a similar path and do not face a fate similar to many other mysterious blasts which made lot of noise at the time of occurrence but were quickly buried in the selective amnesia of the powers that be and the populace which is slowly becoming indifferent and immune towards all such incidents..


Please see also page 6

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 November 2009 on page no. 13

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