Maharashtra to recommend ban on Hindu group


Mumbai : The Maharashtra government Monday said it would recommend a ban on the Sanatan Sanstha, terming it a “fundamentalist organisation” allegedly involved in the recent bomb blasts in Thane district. The group, however, defended itself and accused the government of political bias.

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Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil, who holds the home portfolio, said earlier Monday that the state government would recommend to the central government to ban the Sanstha, which he termed as a “‘fundamentalist” organization.

The government’s contention is that it is allegedly involved in the blasts that took place at the Gadkarari Rangaytan, a theatre in Thane, and another explosion in Panvel, six months ago.

The Sanstha is also accused of involvement in the Rabodi riots last fortnight in which one person was killed.

However, Sanstha trustee and spokesman Abhay Vartak told mediapersons that “banning it would be like banning Hindu culture” and termed the move as politically motivated and biased.

Vartak said that the ban recommendation was nothing but an attempt by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders like Patil and central minister Sharad Pawar to victimize the Sanstha and appease the minorities.

Referring to the post-blasts arrests by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), Vartak said that the accused might have attended the Sanstha’s cultural discourses, but “they are not our members or activists.”

The ATS had nabbed Ramesh Gadkari, Mangesh Nikam, Santosh Angre and two others in connection with the blasts in theatres in Thane, Panvel and the recovery of an unexploded bomb from a theatre in Vashi, Navi Mumbai.

He pointed out that immediately after the explosions, the Sanstha had condemned the blasts and the acts of those behind the terror incidents.

Vartak said it was unfair on the part of the government to compare it with the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which is an extremist organization engaged in subversive activities.

“On the other hand, we are a cultural organization, imparting knowledge and training in Indian culture to thousands of people. Any attempt to ban us would be sheer injustice,” he said.