Karnataka

Gauri case accused linked to Sanatan Sanstha: SIT

Investigators say ex-editor Rane funded group

The Special Investigation Team probing the death of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh has claimed that Shashikant Rane, a former editor of Sanatan Prabhat, the mouthpiece of Goa-based right wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha (SS), had funded the group that killed four rationalists and writers. The group was allegedly inspired to kill ‘durjans’ (those who were anti-Hindu despite being Hindu) by the teachings of Kshatra Dharma Sadhana, an SS book.

The charge sheet includes several statements by two of the accused and a witness who is a former member of the group, which explained how Kshatra Dharma Sadhana was the main inspiration for the murders of ‘durjans’. SIT sleuths also recovered a copy of the book from the house of one of the accused, Sujith Kumar alias Praveen.

Statements given by two key accused before the police narrate how Rane alias Kaka, who died of a cardiac arrest in April 2018, put together the group to kill ‘durjans’ and funded it through another key accused, Amit Degvekar. In his statement, Degvekar said that Rane introduced him to Dr. Veerendra Tawde, who was organising Hindu men to fight for dharma. He admitted to collecting money from ‘Kaka’. This is corroborated by leader of group Amol Kale’s statement which details how ‘Kaka’ asked him to join Dr. Tawde. However, these statements were made before police and not admissible in court as evidence.

According to the SIT, material seized from the residences and persons of Kale, Degvekar, Kumar and another accused Manohar Edave indicate their links to the SS. When they arrested Degvekar in Davanagere in May 2018, they seized two passbooks of bank accounts. The accounts have his residential address as: Sanatan Ashram, Ramnathi, Ponda, Goa. Degvekar worked as a proofreader for Sanatan Prabhat. He was also the roommate of Malgonda Patil who was killed in 2009 Margao bomb blast. At the time, he had been questioned by the Goa police.

The Pune residence of Kale and the Vijayapura residence where Edave lived had photographs of SS founder Dr. Jayanth Athavale. The SIT recovered a pictorial biography of Paratpar Guru Dr. Jayant Athavale from Kumar’s Shivamogga residence. Copies of Sanatan Prabhat were found in their residences.

The charge sheet also includes printouts of several web pages from Sanatan.org and Hindujagruti.org, that have reports of activities of the two organisations from as far back as 2006, which name and in some cases even have photographs of the key accused, participating in their programmes as either ‘seekers’ or office-bearers.

(Concluded)

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 9:33:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/gauri-case-accused-linked-to-sanatan-sanstha-sit/article25929545.ece

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