Pansare case: Congress in Maharashtra demands ban on Sanatan Sanstha

Congress in Maharashtra on Saturday demanded immediate ban on rightwing outfit Sanatan Sanstha, a member of which has been arrested in connection with murder of Communist leader and rationalist Govind Pansare.

"This organisation (Sanathan Sanstha) poses a threat and attacks freedom of thought which is a cultural tradition of Maharashtra. There is an urgent need to ban it with immediate effect", Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee President and former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said in Pune.

Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly and senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil also made the same demand in Kolhapur. After meeting Pansare's wife and daughters-in-law, Vikhe-Patil said, "I demand an immediate ban on the activities of Sanatan Sanstha," and said, "The role of Fadanvis government is suspicious in this regard as it has not taken strong action into the murder case."

He said the Congress government never gave clean chit to Sanatan Sanstha. The state police on Wednesday arrested Samir Gaikwad, an active member of 'Sanatan Sanstha' in connection with Pansare's murder and have detained two relatives for qeustioning.

The organisation has also come under a shadow during investigation of murder of another rationalist Narendra Dabholkar of anti-superstition movement in Pune over two years ago.

Asked about former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan's claim that he had during his tenure as chief minister forwarded a proposal to the Centre seeking ban on the outfit and sharp reaction to it by former Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Chavan said, "You have to ask this to both of them".

He, however, said that notwithstanding what position Shinde took at that time, it was now a "matter of urgency" to ban "Sanatan Sanstha" which is also engaged in vitiating social atmosphere with provocative writings.

On Friday, Prithviraj Chavan had said the previous Congress-led government in the state had urged the UPA government at the Centre to ban the right wing outfit in 2011, but the Home Ministry did not act upon it. Chavan's party colleague and former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, however, said if Chavan was serious about outlawing Sanatan Sanstha he should have called him and asked him about that, instead of merely sending a report to the Centre.

Rejecting Vikhe-Patil's charge that the Fadnavis Government has gone on slow in the case, senior BJP leader and Maharashtra co-operatives Minister Chandrakant Patil said, "Investigation is on and I don't want to pass any premature comment that may possibly divert the line of investigation."

"Congress leaders should at least understand that neither BJP has government has given a clean chit to Sanstha (Sanathan Sanstha)....nor full part of the truth has come to the fore," he added.

82-year-old Pansare and his wife, Uma were shot at by two motorcycle-borne youths on February 16, 2015, near their home in Kolhapur. Pansare died four days later at the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai while his wife survived the attack, suffering injuries that crippled her.

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