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Blast in Goa
10/26/2009
By Ram Puniyani

Goa, the paradise for tourists, witnessed a bomb kept in a scooter going off on the eve of Divali (17th Oct 2009) in Margao. It killed Malgonda Patil and seriously injured Yogesh Naik. Another bomb was detected in Sancoale in a truck carrying 40 youth for Narkasur competition. Interestingly Narkasur day, one of the five festivals of Divali, is celebrated in Goa on a big scale. Sanatana Sanstha, to which both the activists belong, is opposed to Narkasur festival on the ground that it is celebration of evil. The second aim of this blast was to create communal tension in Margao, which has a history of communal violence. Fortunately, the bomb went off before being planted in the crowded place and so the casualty was less.
 
This is the same Sanatan Sanstha, which came to light in the context of a blast which occurred in Gadkari Ragayatan in Thane on 4th June 2008, this had injured seven people. In one of the few cases of success in investigating such cases in Maharashtra or anywhere for that matter, the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Police, succeeded in nabbing the culprits, against whom cases are going on still. It was a clear case of involvement of Hindu Right wing organizations involved in a case of terrorism. The culprits belonged to            Hindu Janjagaran Samiti (HJS), an outfit of Sanatana Sanstha, whose one of the ashrams is based in Panvel near Mumbai. These culprits were also involved in other blasts, in Vashi, Panvel and Ratnagiri.
 
In Thane the blasts were done to protest against the play Amhi Pachpute, a satirical play on Mahabharata. The allegation was that the play insults Hindu Gods. The earlier blast in Panvel was in a theater where the film Jodha Akbar was being screened. In this film the Hindu princess is married to Akbar, a Muslim king, and that is regarded by these outfits as insult to Hindu religion.
 
Sanatan Sanstha founded by Dr. Jayant Balaji Athwale is inspired by the political ideology of Savarkar of Hindu Mahasabha and Hedgewar of RSS. It has branches spread all over, including one in Panvel near Mumbai, while its head office is in Ramnathi in Goa. In earlier Thane and nearby blasts also all the accused belonged to this organization. Sanatan Sanstha says it has nothing to do with the blasts, despite the fact that those involved were members of the organization. Police is investigating the links of these accused with the recent Miraj Sangli riots in Maharashtra on the eve of elections (2009).
 
The same organization also brings out a paper called Sanatan Prabhat, carrying the ideas of Hindu Rashtra, and propagating against minorities. Since the last overt action from this organization, no serious action has been taken against this organization, despite Maharashtra ATS asking for a ban on this organization. Now it surfaces that Goa transport miniter Dhavalikar’s wife Jyoti is also associated with this organization. It is again same organization which campaigned forcefully against the screening of M.F. Hussein’s film 'Through the eyes of a painter', due to which the screening of the film in the Goa Film Festival held in November 2008 was shelved.
 
One recalls that starting from April 2006, many acts of blasts done by the RSS associates, Bajrang Dal, Sadhvi Pragya group etc. came to light. The pattern of these was to target the mosque at time when the crowd of Muslims is maximum there, especially on the Jumma, Friday afternoon namaz (prayer). In case of Sanatan Sanstha associates the blasts so far seems to be taking place to protest against something which they don’t approve of, staging of play Amhi Pachpute, screening of Film Jodha Akbar to here in Goa the celebration of Narkasur festival. The Hindutva related terror seems to be having two types of operations, from which they can be demarcated. And so within the Hindutva inspired terror groups these two clear cut demarcations need to be understood.
 
What is strikingly painful is the police and media response to such events. One knows that in Bajrang Dal- Sadhvi Pragya variety of terrorism starting from Nanded to Malegaon, the investigation has been lukewarm and slow. Initially the investigators refused to believe that Hindu Right wing groups can be part of terror acts. It is only after Hemant Karkare’e immaculate investigation unearthing the role of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Dayananad Pande and company that it was taken with some seriousness. One recalls Karkare having stated that he has collected all the evidence against Sadhvi group. Despite that why the investigation is so slow?
 
One also recalls that while doing this investigation, Karkare was under immense pressure, he was called Deshdrohi (anti National) etc. His pain and anguish went to the extent that he shared this with a senior police officer, Julio Rebeiro, who in turn correctly advised him to continue doing his work with same degree of professionalism. It is same Karkare who got killed in the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai prompting the then Minorities Affairs minister A.R. Antuley to state that there may be something more than meets the eye in the murder of Karkare. Will the truth ever come out?
 
When any blast takes place, and what are popularly called ‘Jihadi terrorists’ are suspected, the newspapers generally devote front page banner headlines, with all details and suspicions spelt out day after day. In cases related to Nanded types or the ones related to Hindu Jagran Samiti type, the coverage is relegated to small columns in the back pages. The visual media which generally carries non-stop running commentary around such an event is now muted when it comes to Hindutva inspired terror.
 
Abhay Vartak, the spokesperson of Hindu Sanatan Sansthan said that his organization has nothing to do with these blasts. He went on to say that talk of his organization being part of it and so banning it, is meant to defame his organization. But still the problem remains, those who have done it are part of his organization. Why they are regularly involved in it, in personal capacity or as organization is a question which needs to be answered? What they preach, teach, indoctrinate due to which the terrorists are mushrooming in his Ashram needs to be investigated.
 
A terrorist is a terrorist. To mete out different treatments to them according to their religion is a product of biased minds and distorted social common sense, which needs to be overcome to strive for justice.