Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) President Deepak Dhavlikar – responding to the growing demand for an action against the Sanatan Sanstha (SS) – said on Sunday, “You should visit the Sanatan Sanstha, see its work, and then only make comments on it. It is doing good work, which is essential for our country.” MGP is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Goa.
He claimed that the SS was not involved in the killings of rationalists and activists.
Dhavlikar saying this – both in the capacities of an individual and of the president of the party – is not surprising at all. If SS has grown into what it is today, and has remained untouched, it is only because of the political patronage in the state. MGP, being the oldest and longest ruling party in, Goa has always stood with the SS.
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Sanatan Sanstha (SS), a Hindu extremist group headquartered in Goa, is named to be the mastermind behind the political assassinations of the rationalists. The investigative agencies in Maharashtra and Karnataka have made several arrests, and all the four assassinations (Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi, and Gauri Lankesh) are said to be linked, and part of a larger conspiracy. The persons that have been arrested so far reportedly are or were affiliated to SS and its offshoot organisation Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS). The civil societies in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa are demanding a ban on the organisation and deeper investigation.
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This is not for the first time that the MGP has come out in support of the SS. The Goa police had arrested six SS members in connection with a bomb blast in Madgaon, Goa, in October 2009. According to the police, two SS supporters, Malgonda Patil and Yogesh Naik, were allegedly carrying a bomb in their scooter, to be planted near the Narkasur effigy competition in Madgaon. The duo died as the bomb went off prematurely. It is after this blast that the SS’s political affiliations in Goa came into picture. Ravi Naik, Goa Congress leader and the then Home Minister of Goa, sought to ban the Sanstha in 2009, but the MGP then had blocked the ban by threatening to pull out of the Congress’s alliance government.
Dhavlikar and his brother, Sudin Dhavlikar, the current PWD Minister of Goa, are reportedly supporters of the SS in Goa. Devika Sequeira, a journalist based in Goa, writes, “Both the Dhavlikar brothers’ wives, Jyoti and Lata, are sadhaks at the Sanatan, something they propagate quite openly. The Dhavlikars have said their wives are Sanatan members to “help promote our Hindu dharma and culture.””
Lata Dhavlikar, wife of Deepak Dhavlikar and a sadhak of SS, had sparked off controversy in 2015. Addressing a convention in Margao, she had said, "Hindu men, while leaving from home, should sport a tilak, while women, kumkum. Always celebrate Gudi Padwa as the Hindu new year, and not January 1. Don't send your children to convent school... say 'namaskar' instead of 'hello' when answering a phone call." In the same speech, she also said, “Incidents of rape are on the rise, largely owing to the fact that women have adopted western culture."
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If Sudin Dhavlikar faced flak for banning bikinis on Goa beaches, claiming that it was against Indian culture and led to rapes, Deepak had congratulated PM Modi on BJP's electoral victory. He had said that he was confident that the PM would develop India into a Hindu nation.
On Sunday, Deepak said, “As the Sanstha is doing good work, there are some people who want to project them as wrong-doers. This tirade against the Sanstha will continue. I am giving them a clean chit. They are not involved in the killing of any rationalist, writer or thinker, which they have been accused of.”
This support from MGP to the SS has guarded it till now. According to Sequeira, the SS and its offshoot, the HJS, became all the more publicly and visually assertive after the BJP won a majority on its own in Goa in the election in 2012 – propelling Manohar Parrikar to the chief minister’s post.
With the right-wing BJP government at the Centre, and in Goa – with allies like MGP – the Hindutva terrorist organisation is growing stronger day by day.
Also Read: Why Has Sanatan Sanstha Not Been Banned Yet?