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All eyes on Sanatan Sanstha after ENT specialist’s arrest

All eyes on Sanatan Sanstha after ENT specialist’s arrest

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11 Jun 2016 No comment 620 hits

Panaji : The arrest of Dr Virendrasinh Tawade, an ENT specialist, by CBI on Friday in the murder of rationalist and anti-superstition campaigner Narendra Dabholkar in 2013, has thrown the spotlight once again on Sanatan Sanstha, a Hindu right-wing organization headquartered in Ramnathi, Ponda in Goa, about 30km from Panaji.

Tawade joined the sanstha at Kolhapur, Maharashtra and visited Sanstha headquarters in Goa only before 2004, a member of the sanstha claimed adding, he did not visit later.

The sanstha has enjoyed political patronage and support in Goa. Responding to demands for a ban on the organisation in September 2015, Goa chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar had ruled out banning the organisation.

Also, wives of two ministers in the coalition BJP government in the state - PWD minister Ramkrishna (Sudin) Dhavalikar and craftsmen training minister Pandurang (Deepak) Dhavalikar, both of the Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) are sadhaks of the sanstha, and are said to be actively supporting its activities.

Speaking to REPORTERS Virendra Marathe, managing trustee of the sanstha said that Tawade is a member of the sanstha and "We knew that they will try to fix the sanstha in the case and frame one of its members as CBI was working under pressure", he alleged.

He said that they have over 50,000 sadhaks in Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra and those sadhaks go to Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and other places to spread spirituality and goals and objectives of the organization.

The sanstha which courts controversy on and off was founded by Jayant Balaji Athavale, 74, in Goa and with headquarters at Ramnathi Bandora in Ponda Taluka. Before launching Sanatan Sanstha, Athavale, was a consultant clinical hypnotherapist in Mumbai. In 1990, Athavale founded Sanatan Bharatiya Sanskruti Sanstha in Mumbai. Sanatan Sanstha says it is involved in research and preaching spirituality in Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

The sanstha first came under the scanner after the 2009 Margao bomb blast in which two of its sadhaks died in the incident. They were killed when the bombs they were carrying blew up, an hour before VIPs were to gather for a pre-Diwali programme.

The Congress-led coalition headed by Digambar Kamat was in government then in Goa and the UPA was ruling at the Centre.

NIA which had taken over the investigation had arrested around six suspects in the case.

Sanathan Sanstha, sources say, has tried to penetrate their influence in different corners of the state, especially rural Goa, propagating their ideology. Many professionals, including women, have joined the sanstha over the last decade at a time when right-wing propaganda is being pushed overtly or covertly, sources say.

The arrest of Sameer Gaikwad in connection with the murder of veteran communist leader Govind Pansare had also brought the sanstha into focus.

The sanstha conducts various activities, including weekly satsangs, periodic lectures on spirituality, and spiritual practice through gurukrupa yoga. It also has videos on celebrating religious festivals and on sattvik products. The sanstha also publishes the Marathi mouthpiece, Dainik Sanatan Prabhat, which carries articles defending Hindutva and ideologies consistent with it.

Since 2004, Athavale stopped making public appearances at the Ramnathi ashram. Athavale is married to a woman from Borim, South Goa. Typically, his day starts at 6am with a puja. He then goes for a massage before eating breakfast. He is said to read a lot, has written over 200 books, and guides writers on spiritual works.

The sanstha states its aim as providing education on dharma in scientific terminology for the benefit of Hindus. It has branches across the country and tie-ups with Hindu organizations in Canada and Australia. A spiritual guru from Madhya Pradesh, Bhaktaraj Maharaj, is known to be the inspiration behind setting up of the Sanatan Sanstha.

While officially the organization claims no affiliation to any other group, its members have divulged links with hardline outfits such as the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), a fringe saffron group. In the past, sadhaks of Sanatan Sanstha have gone on to hold important positions in HJS.

Read More: All eyes on Sanatan Sanstha after ENT specialist’s arrest

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