Virendra Tawde a man associated with Sanathan Sanstha has been arrested from Pune on Friday in connection with the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar. It is also accused of in Govind Pansare murder case.
Which is this obscure organisation? What are their political aims? What is the ideology they are propogating?
Narada news unearths stunning evidence from the police files of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka on the extremist Hindu militancy organization – the Sanatan Sanstha, which aims to wage a genocidal war against “evil-doers,” a terminology it uses to describe Indian Muslims and Christians.
Much before the Malegaon terror attacks in Maharashtra attracted the label of “Hindu Terror”, a Hindu organization has been promoting what it describes as the “spiritual practice of eliminating evil-doers,” which their in-house propaganda literature goes on to describe as killing Muslims and Christians through acts of terrorism.
Narada News comprehensively exposes the devious designs of this right-wing Hindu outfit, headquartered in Goa, whose members have been named as accused by Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka police in alleged acts of terror.
The evidence unearthed by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) between 2008 and 2011 is so compelling, but the former Congress-NCP government and the current BJP led government just preferred to ignore the evidence for politically expedient reasons.
But the evidence gathering dust in the police files of these three states will be difficult to erase. Here’s why.
BJP MP and former Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh says during his tenure in UPA II, the Maharashtra government did not furnish any proof to justify law enforcement action against extremist Hindu group Sanatan Sanstha.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik questioned the integrity of the former home secretary by alleging that Singh refused to take any action on the Maharashtra government’s recommendation in 2011 to proscribe the outfit.
“UPA government is criticised for not accepting the state government’s request to ban Sanatan. But if people like Singh sits on the file, a decision cannot be taken,” Malik alleged.
Irrespective of whether the state government furnished proof or not, the fact is that Singh would have certainly known that the Maharashtra ATS in 2008 filed a 1,020-page charge sheet against six members of Sanatan Sanstha and its affiliates like the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS), for setting off bomb blasts in Thane, Vashi and Panvel.
In August 2008, Vikram Bhave, father of Thane bomb blast accused, while speaking to media eulogized his son’s involvement in this manner: “”whatever these people have done, they have done it for Hindutva.” He said he is proud of his son, Vinayak’s, role in the bomb blast at Thane’s Gadkari Rangyatan.
Bhave is a veteran and active member of Sanatan Sanstha from Varsai, infamous as the hometown of Nathuram Godse. Bhave says he did not know of his son’s plans to bomb the auditorium, but was not prepared to condemn the attack.
One of several pieces of evidence in the ATS charge sheet are several documents that show Sanatan Sanstha’s payments to its members. In the document which is in the possession of Narada News, Bhave’s name is clearly visible as one of those in the payroll of this extremist Hindu organization. Bhave’s only regret when he spoke to the media in 2008 was if he knew his “son was planning to do this, I would have advised him to wait because Hindus have become sensationless (sic).”
Across vast swathes of Maharashtra, especially in Chiplun, Satara and Nasik, Sanatan Sanstha has established its deep presence. Several retired police and army forces personnel have joined its ranks.
Stories about how members of this organization are brainwashing youths to leave their jobs and join their activities are innumerable. But these stories and voices of the families of the victims are yet to make it to the media.
Sanatan Sanstha’s modus operandi is to entice semi-educated and educated youth in the hinterlands of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka to join the organisation as brave defenders of the Hindu faith.
After the recruitment, the youth are put through a training schedule, which churns them out as hardcore extremists who are required to take revenge on anyone the organization deems as having brought disrepute to their version of Hinduism.
Even though former Home Secretary has conveniently escaped accountability by suggesting that during his tenure Maharahstra government did not offer any proof, the fact is that the government of the day in the state is run by the BJP. All that Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis and Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh need to do is to go through the evidence submitted by the ATS in 2008 and take appropriate action.
Sanstha spokespersons have arrogantly admitted in various media interviews that the organization’s member set off Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) to “make noise”. Another spokesperson said the organization “does not believe in violence” and its actions aren’t intended to hurt people.
But the police files have evidence of Sanatan Sanstha providing financial assistance to families of two individuals — Ramesh Gadkari and Vikram Bhave — for setting off bombs in Thane and Vashi on 4 June, 2008.
Maharashtra and Goa police are sitting on tonnes of documentary evidence like this.
Narada News is making public a selection of the voluminous evidence that is gathering dust in the police headquarters of these states and in Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s office.
Sanatan Sanstha runs training camps for its members in the guise of “self defence training.” Their self defence training manuals teach its members how to fire a gun, exhorting its members that “the gaze should be towards the evil doer.” No guesses for who the evil doers are – rationalists, anyone the organization perceives as anti-Hindu, Muslims and Christians.
Sanstha’s self-defence books represent Pakistan and Muslims as demons who the organisation says are bent on destroying India. When questioned by media, Abhay Vartak, spokesperson, Sanathan Sanstha said: “We are protecting the Hindu way of life. We help people at physical level and combating corruption. This can’t be called extremists.” But the organization evades questions on why its publication calls for the creation of “Hindu Terrorists.”
For some years now, strategic affairs commentators have rued the use of term “Hindu Terror” because it connotes some sort of similarity with “Islamic Terror”. However, the fact is that it was organization’s like Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti who openly promoted the idea and terminology of “Hindu Terror” as a means of combating “Islamic Terror” emanating from Pakistan.
These images below amply demonstrate how Sanatan Sanstha rationalizes its terror activities.
Sanstha’s revivalist campaigns have resulted not only in its members participating in terror activities, but sparking riots in Maharashtra.
For several years now intelligence units of various agencies have been regularly reporting on Sanstha’s worrying proclivity to openly justify its terror methods and radicalize Hindu’s to take up violence as a means of countering perceived insults to the Hindu faith.
How and why did the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra and the current BJP government turned a blind eye to announcements in their newspaper, Sanatan Prabhat…exhorting its members to become “Hindu naxalites” or its aggressive posturing to form a Hindu nation.
Waging war or “kshatradharma” is a central ideological premise of Sanathan Sanstha. This is how one text describes `kshatradharma’ – “The spiritual practice of protecting seekers and destroying evil doers is beneficial for this part of the Kaliyug.”
By conveniently creating a facade of spiritual mumbo-jumbo around terror tactics, Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale – head of Sanatan Sanstha has created a dangerous, intolerant and violent Hindu organisation based on a dubious interpretation of Hindu scriptures to push through a belief in large parts of rural and semi-urban Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa that Hindu terrorism is the only way to counter Islamic terrorrism.
According to former members of Sanstha, one of its first training camps was reportedly held at Damise village, close to the Sanstha’s headquarters in Ponda, Goa. Camps were then set up at Satara, Karad and Raigad in Maharashtra. The Sanstha has persuaded ex-armymen to train their cadres, and each camp allegedly gives commando training to 200 Sadhaks. But the Sanstha calls it a part of its spiritual program.
This extremist organization’s publications encourage the members to identify those who work against ‘dharm’, make lists of such people, and then ‘eliminate’ them. The organization clearly says in its publication that “violence towards evil-doers is non-violence.”
If the Maharashtra government were to resuscitate the 1,020-page charge sheet its ATS prepared against six members of two Hindu extremist organisations, the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS), filed 7 years ago for the bomb blasts in Thane, Vashi and Panvel, a stunning narrative of what fringe, violent extremist Hindu outfits were planning to unleash would have been crystal clear.
All the documents revealed in this Narada News investigation have been written by Athavale and the theme is most of these books is defence of Hinduism, which is portrayed as being under threat from so-called evil doers, Christians, Muslims and secular Hindus.
The text on ‘Spiritual Practice of Protecting Seekers and Destroying Evildoers’ or Kshatradharma Sadhna contains the core beliefs of Sanathan Sanstha. In a rabid and 44 volume series titled ‘Science of Spirituality’ Athavale says defending the faith against anti-Hindu forces, the evil doers, “is the highest form of spiritual practice”.
It is surprising that Athavale has escaped the law even when he produced an array of crazy violent rants through his books with proclamations such as ”We will wage a war for righteousness.” In fact, Athavale made a “timetable of spiritual practice for a successful Dharmayudh or religious war” to establish what the followers of Sanathan Sanstha believes will be a “Divine Kingdom”.
This is Athavale’s time-table for waging war against “evil-doers” (rationalists, Muslims, Christians and Hindus who don’t follow their dictates):
1997-1999: Impressing the minds of people that destroying evil doers is part of spiritual practice.
2000-2006: Actually performing the act of destroying evil doers.
2007-2022: Learning how to run Divine Kingdom, which is a Kingdom of Absolute Truth.
2023-2025: Commencement of the Divine Kingdom.
(Source: ‘Science of Spirituality: Vol 1E, Spiritual Practice of Protecting Seekers and Destroying Evildoers, Page 64)
Meanwhile, at the Panvel centre of Sanatan Sanstha, the “believers” pray as they walk in circles around the vehicle of Athalave’s spiritual guru, Bhaktaraj Maharaj, to receive what they believe to be “spiritual vibrations”. One wonders whether these are the same people who read and believe in Sanatan Sanstha’s hate literature.
The organization’s newspaper, Sanatan Prabhat, printed by a trust associated to the Sanstha publishes articles and cartoons derogating other religions. Christian priests are depicted with horns, indicating that they are devils. Communal riots were sparked off in many parts of Maharashtra in November 2005 when Sanatan Prabhat published a derogatory article on the Prophet.
The Sanstha may be a fringe extremist organisation, but its rabble rousing activities polarizing communities seems to be getting back handed support from other Hindu fringe organizations. Groups like the Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, and MNS in Maharashtra have not hesitated to share the same platform with Sanstha. There are photographic evidence of some RSS leaders sharing the same platform with Sanstha.
Contrary to their deeds and ideology, BJP ever since came to power have been arguing that it works for a plural society. If the Modi government is serious about this, all they have to do is to act on the several incriminating report against Hindu extremist groups.
But given their ideological proclivity to these organisations whether they will act against them remains to be seen.