Five Sanatan Sanstha men linked to Gauri Lankesh murder
In the latest development in the Gauri Lankesh murder case, five names associated to the right-wing Sanatan Sanstha have emerged as key suspects. Four of them have Interpol Red Notices against them for their alleged involvement in earlier crimes. All five are absconding. Previously, the Sanstha had denied involvement, saying ideological differences notwithstanding, "to conclude that Hindu activists have carried out the murder is unfair".
Senior journalist, activist, and dissenter Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her Bengaluru house on September 5. Lankesh was the daughter of famous poet-turned-journalist P Lankesh, and was known for her weekly Kannada tabloid 'Gauri Lankesh Patrike' which was a critic of communal violence, the caste system, and right-wing Hindutva politics. Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah had announced a 21-member SIT to probe the "organized crime".
The Sanathan Sanstha was established in 1990 by Jayant Athavale, who is a clinical-hypnotherapist by profession. It is a registered non-government organization that claims to impart religious knowledge and assist people in achieving spiritual upliftment. Their website promotes tips for healthier life. The headquarters of the Sanstha is stationed at Ramnathi, which is very well known for its eminent temples.
The five suspected men are Praveen Limkar (Kolhapur), Jayaprakash alias Anna (Mangalore), Sarang Akolkar (Pune), Rudra Patil (Sangli) and Vinay Pawar (Satara). The first four were earlier linked to an October'09 blast in Madgaon (Goa) which killed two. They had Red Notices against them. Patil, Akolkar and Pawar have also been linked to the murders of scholars Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi.
Kalburgi, known for his strong stand against right-wing groups, was shot dead outside his home in August'15. Pansare, a CPI veteran, was shot in February'15 along with his wife Uma. Meanwhile, Dabholkar was shot dead when he was on his morning walk in August'13.
Sanstha founder Athavale was an atheist, but had a "change of heart" after discovering those he couldn't treat had been cured with spiritual intervention. The Sanstha believed "those with faith in (science) possess limited knowledge". The website also proclaims how "Sattva-Hindus" are the worthiest race. These beliefs offer an insight into its possible motives, but its involvement in these crimes hasn't yet been proved.