The 1,000-page dossier on Sanatan Sanstha assembled by the Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2011 recommends that the ultraconservative Hindu nationalist group be banned for its involvement in terror-related activities

Maria’s dossier on Sanatan Sanstha termed it a clear & present danger
The 1,000-page dossier on Sanatan Sanstha assembled by the Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2011 recommends that the ultraconservative Hindu nationalist group be banned for its involvement in terror-related activities and because it poses a major security threat to the state. The document, which Mumbai Mirror has reviewed, also prescribes that the government place under an interdict the Sanstha’s affiliates Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Dharma Shakti Sena, which it says are anti-national and imperil inter-religious harmony.

Among those named as the dominant players in the Sanstha’s extremist undertakings is Rudra Patil, who is now the principal accused in the killing of the rationalist Govind Pansare, who was murdered in February this year. The dossier was compiled by Director General Home Guards, Rakesh Maria who was then the ATS chief. It was submitted to the state DGP D Sivanandan who forwarded the report to the union home ministry, headed by Sushilkumar Shinde. The home ministry is yet to act on the recommendations.

“While assembling the dossier, several aspects of the Sanstha and the activities of its sister organisations were considered,” said a senior police officer who was involved in its compilation. “They included terror-related activities and the threat that these outfits posed to the state.” Other than this, the document also brought to question the role played by Sanatan Prabhat, the official bulletin of the Sanstha, which publishes incendiary and provocative articles aimed specifically at those that espouse secularism, rationalism and republicanism. The dossier presents as evidence these articles, and more crucially, First Information Reports filed against Sanatan Sanstha members arrested on terrorism-related charges.

These include their involvement in the Thane-Panvel bomb blasts of 2008 – two of its members were sentenced to ten years’ rigorous imprisonment in 2011 for their role in the incident. It cites the Margao blasts of 2009 – in which two Sanstha devotees were killed while on their way to plant explosive devices at a religious procession. The report also mentions the role played by the organisation in the Miraj, Sangli and Ichalkaranji riots of 2009, in which one person was killed and five people injured.

“Most of the people involved in these acts were from the coastal region of Maharashtra. In addition the group has a strong network in Pune, Sindhudurg, Kolhapur and Sangli districts of Maharashtra, apart from Goa and Karnataka,” said the police officer who helped assemble the file. The ATS has suggested that the Sanstha members who carried out the Margao blasts were trained by the group at its ashrams in Sangli and Satara in 2009. The men named in this section of the report include Rudra Patil from Sangli, Sarang Akolkar from Pune and Jay Prakash alias Anna from Mangalore as the ones who “prepared Improvised Explosive Devices” and conducted “test blasts” on the hill behind the home of a man identified as Laxmikanth Naik in Talaulim village of Goa between “August 26 and 28, 2009.” The National Investigation Agency has named Patil as the principal suspect in the killing of Govind Pansare. The first arrest in that case, of Sanstha member Sameer Gaikwad, led police to widen the scope of their investigation to include the outfit and its affiliates.

When reached for comment, Rakesh Maria said, “We had sent a comprehensive report to the additional chief sectary, home, UC Sarangi in 2011. He forwarded it to the central government. I am not aware of what has happened since.”

In its concluding section, the dossier contains this warning: the Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliates have established a network that binds seditious groups and chauvinistic factions in Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka and if its impulses are not contained, it will present a clear and present danger to internal security. “Their evolutionary trajectory is not unlike that of the Indian Mujahideen, which emerged as a reactionary and extremist splinter faction of the Students Islamic Movement of India,” the police officer who compiled the report told Mumbai Mirror.

“There is a core fanatic group within the Sanatan Sanstha which is involved in these blasts and killings. It is a small band of people and it appears Rudra Patil is the man who leads it.”