Goa weighing ban on Sanatan, outfit denies hand in blast
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Last Updated: Monday, October 19, 2009, 23:48
Panaji: The Goa government on Monday said it is contemplating a ban on Sanatan Sanstha for its alleged involvement in the Diwali-eve blast in Panaji even as the Hindu right-wing organisation denied of any role in the explosion that left one dead and another critically wounded.

"We are examining whether the outfit can be banned.

There is no formal decision on the issue," Advocate General Subodh Kantak said.

The law department is examining whether the Sanstha can be banned centrally, or a state-specific ban can be imposed, he said.

Meanwhile, police said Yogesh Naik, who was earlier reported to be dead, was in fact fighting for his life in a hospital.

Earlier, Goa Home Minister Ravi Naik said the ban can be imposed if the investigation confirms the outfit's involvement in the blast. "We will take the decision only after the investigation is over," he said.

As the Sanstha's role in the blast came under the police scanner, its spokesman Abhay Vartak said an attempt was being made to falsely implicate the organisation.

"Home Minister Ravi Naik is trying to frame our organisation because it had taken a firm stand on the state government's failure in preventing desecration of temples and idols in the state," Vartak told reporters at Panvel near Mumbai.

Naik told a news agency that police were probing the foreign links of the Sanstha because its Goa office was frequented by foreigners who were also found during the raid after the blast.

About reports that Jyoti Dhavalikar, wife of state Transport Minister Ramkrishna Dhavalikar, was an office bearer of the Sanstha, Naik said the police would examine her.

Reacting to Naik's statement, Vartak said "no foreigners were living in the Goa ashram. Some American tourists had visited the ashram last week.

"Sanatan Sanstha is being projected as a militant group and comparisons are being drawn with LeT and Naxalites," Vartak said, denying its association with Pragya Singh Thakur, one of the main accused in the Malegaon blast on September 29 last year which killed six people.

"Naik's statement that Sanstha has nexus with Thakur is completely false," said Vartak.

While admitting Malgonda Patil, who was killed in the blast at Margao on October 16 night, was a Sanstha member and owned the scooter in which the explosive was planted, Vartak said police were yet to reach a conclusion about whether the deceased had himself kept the explosive there.

He said Nishad Bakhle, who jointly owned the scooter with Patil, was not associated with Sanatan, while critically wounded Yogesh Naik's link was limited to his delivering milk to the Goa ashram.

DIG Ravindra Yadav said the SIT, constituted to probe the blast, has questioned a number of top Sanstha functionaries including its chief Jayant Athavale.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, October 19, 2009, 23:48

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