Human Rights

Goa Blast: charges framed against Hindu right wing activists

Panaji: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on 17 May filed charges in a court against 11 activists of a Hindu right wing organisation for the 2009 Diwali-eve blasts that killed two people in Goa's Margao town. However, the organisation itself has been given a clean chit, its top official claimed, noting that it has not been named as a conspirator. All the 11 people named in the chargesheet are members of Sanatan Sanstha whose members were also linked to several low-intensity explosions in Maharashtra some years back. They face charges of conspiring and collecting arms for waging a war against the State and causing mischief. They have also been charged under the Explosive Substance Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The chargesheet, running into about 3,000 pages, was filed before Sessions Judge U. V. Bakre.

The investigating agency also listed among the accused, two Sanatan Sanstha members who were killed in the accidental blast that took place while they were ferrying the explosives to a festival gathering in Margao, 35 km from here, on 16 October, 2009. The two accused who died in the blast were Malgonda Patil and Yogesh Naik.  The chargesheet names 250 witnesses who are likely to be examined by the local court during the trial. Those named as accused include Vinay Talekar, Vinayak Patil, Dhananjay Ashtekar, all residents of Goa, and Dilip Mangaonkar, a resident of Maharashtra. They all are at present in judicial custody. Other accused named in the chargesheet are Prashant Juvekar, Sarang Akolkar, Jayaprakash, Rudra Patil and Prashant Ashtekar, all residents of Maharashtra. They all are absconding.

A top Sanatan Sanstha official said that nowhere in the chargesheet had the NIA named the organisation as a conspirator. Sanatan Sanstha managing trustee Virendra Marathe said that the NIA has given a clean chit to the organisation. "We have always been saying that the Sanstha had nothing to do with the blast. Our ashram was raided twice too. The chargesheet is a vindication of our stand that our ashram was not involved in the blast," Marathe said.

Giving details of the sequence of events before the blast, the NIA said that Dhananjay Ashtekar rigged 12 electronic detonator circuits in Pune and of these, he set aside five for the intended explosion in Goa. It says that Ashtekar met Patil, who was the managing trustee of the Sanatan Sanstha, in June last year in a room close to the residence of Sanstha's founder Jayant Athavale.

The chargesheet said that a dry run was also carried out by the accused a couple of months before the Diwali-eve blasts. The chargesheet has listed unexploded improvised explosive devices (IED) and clothes found at the blast site in the list of evidence. The investigation into the Margao blast was initially conducted by a special investigation team (SIT) of Goa Police, but was later handed over to the NIA.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 June 2010 on page no. 11

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