The Hindu – Bhima-Koregaon case: Bombay High Court extends Gautam Navlakha’s relief from arrest for three weeks

Pune police had earlier contended that activist Gautam Navlakha is a member of CPI(Maoist).

Sonam Saigal

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 13 September 2019. The Bombay High Court on Friday extended activist Gautam Navlakha’s interim relief from arrest for three weeks. Mr Navlakha has been charged with having Maoist links in the Bhima Koregaon violence.

A Division Bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre was hearing a plea filed by Mr Navlakha seeking to quash the FIR filed by Pune police against him. The court rejected the plea, but it granted a stay in order to appeal against it in the Supreme Court.

Pune police had earlier contended that activist Gautam Navlakha is a member of CPI(Maoist).

Additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai had previously said that based on the material recovered from other accused, Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling, it can be proved that Mr Navlaka had Naxal links and was in contact with terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen and Kashmir separatists.

Advocate Yug Chaudhary had also contended that simply presenting some documents in Mr Navlakha’s name does not prove that he is a “terrorist”. He went on to say that there is no evidence against him and the only available material is what was recovered from the laptops of other accused.

The Additional public prosecutor should also have included Babar Khalsa, Sikhs for Justice and Assam, Nagaland and Manipur rebel groups.
Man in Blue

The Hindu – FCRA case: Bombay HC gives interim protection to Grover, Jaising

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 25 July 2019. The petitioners approached the High Court on Thursday seeking that the FIR registered by the CBI against the NGO Lawyers Collective and Anand Grover be quashed.

The Bombay High Court on Thursday restrained the CBI from taking any coercive action against NGO Lawyers Collective and its founding members, senior lawyers Anand Grover and Indira Jaising.

The Bench led by Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre granted the interim protection till August 19, the next date of hearing.

The CBI had registered a case against M Grover and the NGO over alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) in use of foreign funds received by Lawyers Collective.

The petitioners approached the High Court on Thursday seeking that the FIR registered by the CBI against the NGO and Mr Grover in June be quashed.

Senior Advocate Aspi Chinoy, their lawyer, denied all charges of FCRA violation, and alleged that the FIR and the Ministry of Home Affairs complaint preceding it were “ex-facie (on the face of it) examples of abuse of power”.

The CBI registered the FIR following a complaint by the MHA in May alleging violation of FCRA provisions. While the FIR did not name Ms Jaising as an accused, the MHA complaint, which is part of the FIR, mentioned her name and made specific allegations against her.

The CBI alleged that the NGO received foreign funds between 2009 and 2015, but failed to disclose a major part of it.

CBI counsel and Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh said that Mr Grover and Ms Jaising used foreign funds for “personal benefits”.

He also said that according to the MHA complaint, during her tenure as Additional Solicitor General, Ms Jaising continued to draw remuneration from the NGO. This remuneration money came out of foreign contributions received by the NGO, he said.

Advocate Chinoy, however, argued that the alleged undisclosed foreign funds had been received by the NGO not as a “donation or grant”, but as “remuneration for a specific task”. Therefore, he argued, the said money was not covered under the FCRA.

He also told the Bench that Ms Jaising had taken the Law Ministry’s permission for drawing remuneration from Lawyers Collective while she was ASG.

The CBI, however, argued that the permission should have come from the MHA and not the Law Ministry. Besides, Mr Singh said, the Union government did not know at the time that the remuneration was coming out of foreign funds.

The petitioners also pointed out that the MHA complaint was based on an inspection report from 2016 that had pointed out a single violation of non-disclosure under the FCRA. At the time, following the inspection report, the MHA had issued an order cancelling the registration of Lawyers Collective for receiving foreign funds.

This cancellation order was challenged in the High Court by the NGO in 2017, and is currently pending before a single judge, the petitioners said.

While granting interim relief, the Division Bench led by Justice More took note of the petitioners’ submission that the CBI’s act of filing an FIR on the basis of a two-and-half year old report, when the matter had reached the court, was questionable.

“We find that the allegations against the petitioners are already sub-judice before a single Bench of this court. It is pertinent to note that there has been no change in circumstances or on the material on record,” the Bench said.

“The respondent number one (MHA) waited for over two years and in May this year, issued directions for investigations. The investigation is being carried out on the basis of an inspection report from 2016, but the cancellation order issued later…is sub-judice,” the Bench said.

The Bench directed the CBI to file a reply by August 19 and granted the prayer of interim protection till then.

The Hindu – Lynching incidents should not be politicised or given communal colour: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 29 June 2019. Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s comment comes in the backdrop of the alleged lynching of 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand last week.

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on June 29 said incidents of lynching should not be given a communal colour or politicised.

“Lynching is a criminal subject. It should not be give a communal colour. It is highly condemnable and no one should politicise it,” the Minority Affairs Minister said while speaking to reporters after inaugurating a renovated hall of the Haj House in Mumbai

The comment comes in the backdrop of the alleged lynching of a 24-year-old man in Jharkhand last week.

The victim, Tabrez Ansari, was allegedly tied to a pole and thrashed with sticks by a mob in Seraikela Kharsawan district of Jharkhand on suspicion of theft. The man was purportedly seen in a video being forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”. He later succumbed to his injuries.

Mr Naqvi said the culture of harmony and tolerance of majority Hindu community has built and strengthened the foundation of India’s democratic secularism.

“India is the world’s largest secular democratic country because after partition, Pakistan chose to become an Islamic nation, while the majority Hindu community in India chose the path of secularism,” he said.

Despite the diversity in languages, faiths, food and style of living, India’s culture has kept us united through a strong bond. Today, the minorities in India are moving forward on the path of development with religious and social freedom, the minister said.

“The strong inclusive culture, unity and harmony of India has defeated terrorism and other enemies of humanity. Terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State have not been successful in their evil designs due to the commitment to unity of our society,” the BJP leader said.

The Muslim community in India knows very well that terrorism is the biggest enemy of the entire humanity and Islam, he said.

“We should remain cautious to ensure that no negative agenda is successful in disturbing the atmosphere of inclusive development and harmony. We have to make secularism and democracy our strength and not a weakness,” Mr. Naqvi said.

2 lakh Muslims to visit Haj’

The Minister said it was for the first time since independence that a record 2 lakh Indian Muslims will go on Haj this year without any subsidy.

“An honest and transparent system developed by the Modi government has ensured that even after removal of Haj subsidy, there is no unnecessary financial burden on the Haj pilgrims,” he said.

“A record number of two lakh Indian Muslims will go on Haj this year in over 500 flights from 21 embarkation points across the country,” Mr. Naqvi said.

The number of women Haj pilgrims going without ‘mehram’ (male companion) this year is double as compared to last year, the Minister added.

BBC News – Is India exaggerating its economic growth?

India’s economic growth might be overestimated, according to the country’s former chief economic adviser.

Sameer Hashmi

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 13 June 2019. In a column published in an Indian newspaper, Arvind Subramanian said his research shows India has changed how it measures growth, and this led to its gross domestic product (GDP) being overstated by about 2.5% annually.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s panel of economic advisers has rejected his conclusions, adding it would soon issue a “point-to-point rebuttal”.

Mr Subramanian’s observations have, however, reignited concerns about the credibility of India’s economic growth data.

It was the fastest growing economy in 2018 but many leading economists have argued the new methodology is flawed as it does not truly reflect the economy.

What’s the controversy?

In 2015, India changed the way it measured GDP.

One of the major changes: GDP is now measured by using market prices rather than basic costs. Simply put, the GDP was used to be calculated based on the wholesale prices at which producers received their products. Now, it’s calculated based on the market prices paid by consumers.

And the base year was shifted from 2004-05 to 2011-12 to assess quarterly and annual growth figures. Since then, the methodology has been under scrutiny from economists and statisticians.

Mr Subramanian has reinforced those doubts by claiming that the economic growth for the period between the financial years 2011-12 and 2016-17 is exaggerated. While official estimates put it at 7%, he pegs the “actual growth” at about 4.5%.

His comments are based on his own research, which has been published by the Centre for International Development at Harvard University.

Since 2015, when the new methodology came into effect, a growing number of experts have questioned the high growth estimates under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Despite his government’s claims of rapid growth, unemployment touched a 45-year high between 2017 and 2018.

Raghuram Rajan, former head of India’s central bank and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, has expressed doubts over the data given the high rate of joblessness.

What does the Indian government say?

The government has defended its methodology for calculating economic growth.

“India objectively measures the contribution of various sectors in the economy and the country’s GDP estimates are based on accepted procedures and methodologies,” India’s statistics ministry said in a statement.

This is the not the first time that the government has been questioned over data collection. A study by the statistics ministry found that in the fiscal year which ended June 2016, 36% of companies in the database used for calculating India’s GDP could not be traced or were wrongly classified.

The government itself has admitted there are deficiencies in the way it collets data.

Mr Subramanian has called for an independent panel of experts comprising Indian and foreign nationals to examine India’s GDP data.

“My new research suggests that post-global financial crisis, the heady narrative of a guns-blazing India – that statisticians led us to believe – may have to cede to a more realistic one of an economy growing solidly but not spectacularly,” Mr Subramanian writes.

How will this affect India?

It’s a big blow for Mr Modi’s government, which recently won a second term but is already under pressure to revive economic growth.

The government’s own figures admit that India is no longer the fastest growing economy, it lost that tag to China when its GDP grew at its slowest pace in five years.

Not only could this hurt India’s reputation but it also highlights how economic policies implemented over the past few years may have actually impeded growth by giving an inaccurate picture of the economy.

For example, interest rates in India were kept high to tackle inflation but that created more barriers for businesses, forcing them to borrow capital at a high cost. To make matters worse, the unravelling of the bad loans crisis impacted banks, making it difficult to access money.

The central bank lowered interest rates thrice this year to boost the economy after growth started to falter.

The lack of jobs and the agrarian crisis gripping India are two huge challenges that have weighed down economic growth.

Apart from restoring confidence in the economy, experts say there is an urgent need to revamp the statistical system to capture real-time data for policy analysis. The government has said that it’s working with the World Bank to modernise the way data is collected

Mr Modi has set up committees to device policies that would help attract investment and create employment. Given the gloomy outlook on India’s economy, Mr Subramanian, too, expects the government to act swiftly to tackle the slowdown.

“Going forward, there must be reform urgency stemming from the new knowledge that growth has been tepid, not torrid,” he writes.

The Hindu – Five years on, no relief for jailed Delhi University professor Saibaba

Professor Saibaba, held for Maoist links, is now battling several health conditions

Sonam Saigal

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 09 May 2019. Arrested on 09 May 2014, on charges of having Maoist links, Delhi University Professor G N Saibaba, who is 90% physically handicapped, has remained incarcerated in Nagpur Central Jail’s ‘anda cell’ (solitary confinement) since his conviction on 07 March 2017.

On 30 April 2019, a panel of experts with the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) wrote to the Indian government urging authorities to immediately release Saibaba, citing his “seriously deteriorating” health condition.

“Dr Saibaba’s health problems require immediate and sustained medical attention and are reaching a point of being life-threatening,” the five Special Rapporteurs Catalina Devandas, Michel Forst, Dainius Pūras, Nils Melzer and Agnès Callamard wrote.

Saibaba has been wheelchair-bound since he was five because of polio and suffers from 19 medical ailments. “He has a cyst in his brain due to which he keeps getting unconscious and has maladies in his gall bladder and pancreas,” his wife Vasantha Kumari, said over telephone from Delhi.

“He also has issues in his kidney and spine because of which he needs comprehensive treatment”.

Ms Kumari said jail authorities kept assuring her that they would help her disabled husband inside the prison but had provided little assistance. “There is no one from the jail authorities and the neighbouring adivasi co-convicts help him to eat and go to the washroom”.

HC rejects bail plea

On March 25, Saibaba’s medical bail plea was rejected by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court. The court had observed that the “offences are serious in nature” as reason for not granting suspension of sentence.

Explaining that his detention in the anda cell left her husband exposed to extremes of temperature that was worsening his health condition, Ms Kumari wryly observed, “prisons were meant for reformation but now they are meant for torture.

The conditions of prisons matter only when we want to bring back Vijay Mallya but are not even taken into consideration when there is a disabled convict”.

She said if he could not be granted bail he should at least be shifted to another jail.

“We have written to the authorities to shift him to Cherlapally central prison in Hyderabad because that’s where his brother is, who can go visit him regularly and my mother-in-law will also be at peace,” Ms Kumari said. “The Nagpur jail has no emergency room and none of us are around if something happens,” she added, her voice trailing off.

“Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in a bomb blast that killed six people can be granted medical bail and be allowed to contest elections, but Saibaba should not be allowed to even be transferred to another jail,” Ms. Kumari said.

Saibaba’s daughter Manjeera said: “UAPA [Unlawful Activities Prevention Act] has been misused and my father has become a case study.”

She added, “I think its a huge game. They are able to prove that even without evidence we can convict a person. His case is serving as a huge cornerstone.”

Ms. Kumari said, “I know why Saibaba is suffering, because he stood for the rights of dalits and adivasis and other minorities. There is no democracy left. He is in prison for his ideology.”

The Asian Age – Beating the heat in Mumbai

As the city witnessed its hottest day of the year on Monday, the city doctors warn of infections and diseases that are likely to hit the city.

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 28 March 2019. The scorching summers are here and what can be a better way to make an entry than spiking the temperature to 40.3 degree Celsius, as happened on Monday. With seven degrees above the average, the city recorded its highest temperature of the year.

Although the IMD has observed slight dips in the temperature after Monday, the troubles for the Mumbaikars are all set to return in the forms of summer diseases. “If the temperature persists like this, the next April and May will be really difficult for people,” warns General Physician Dr Alan Soares.

Explaining the sudden change in the weather, Shubhangi Bhute, a scientist from IMD blames it on the Eastern winds that are causing an inversion, which is a meteorological term meaning an abnormal rise in temperature at the ground. “Generally, the temperature in Mumbai rises because of the Easterly winds from Rajasthan directly which are dry and hot.

Its speed is also quite high. So, it extracts the sea breeze to set on, because of which the temperature shoots up. The sea breeze usually takes a long time to set in, and if it’s delayed by one hour, there is two to three degrees rise likely. On Monday, the rise was seven degrees.” She further adds that the average temperature forecast for the week is between 37 to 39 degrees.

While in addition to the sweltering weather and unhealthy air quality, the rise in the temperature opens the Pandora’s box of infectious diseases that are likely to hit the people.

“The sudden weather change in the last ten days and the rise in temperature will lead to higher chances of diseases especially the summer diseases which usually starts from water-borne infections like Gastroenteritis, Typhoid, Diarrhoea and others,” says Prof Dr Pratit Samdani, Consulting Internal Physician at Breach Candy, Sir. H N Bhatia and Saifee Hospitals.

Moreover, Dr Soares confirms the rolling in of the cases as he says, “We have actually seen a slight spike in viral issues. There has been a little outbreak of Gastroenteritis because of the heat.” Hence, it is important to not store water and consume boiled water.

In addition to the water-borne infections, the most commonly spread infections during this time are upper respiratory and lower respiratory tract infections. The contagious infections have a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, and fever as its most common symptoms.

“When there is a sudden change in the weather, it takes some time for the body to adapt which can cause this infection. One of the important things to take care about is that your air conditioners are serviced before you reuse them,” suggests Dr Samdani.

To prevent contracting this infection, the doctor further suggests making sure to not go suddenly from a hot environment to a chilly environment and rather make it gradual. “Acute cooling causes vasoconstriction and the defence mechanisms of the respiratory tract become weak,” he explains.

The third type of infection that mostly gets overlooked is the fungal skin disease caused by excessive sweating. The doctor suggests keeping the skin dry and not leaving it moist even after taking the bath.

While making certain lifestyle adjustments can prevent these infections, dehydration and heat strokes may still loom if you are not hydrated enough. Since the body is not accustomed to consuming more water than required in the winters, the seasonal change may prove detrimental to one’s health and can also cause urine infections in some cases.

Moreover, for people working outdoors, if their body temperature rises more than 40 degrees Celsius, they will be prone to heat and sunstroke with symptoms ranging from dry skin and headache to dizziness. “Hydration should be maintained.

You need to be sure about your heart and kidney and that you are having enough water,” affirms Dr Samdani. Additionally, Dr Soares suggests, “Consume lots of liquids and things that are cooling and avoid spicy and stale food.”

The Asian Age – Ram temple issue may not click for BJP in 2019 polls: Sharad Pawar

BJP has been saying that it was committed to the construction of temple, but silent on bringing ordinance in Parliament for the purpose.

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 12 December 2018. A day after the BJP’s poll debacle in three Hindi heartland states, NCP chief Sharad Pawar Wednesday said the Ram temple issue might not work in favour of the saffron party again, unlike in the past, if it is raised ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

He alleged that the BJP may try to create a communal divide on the temple issue which is a “matter of concern”.

The BJP is under pressure from its ideological mentor RSS, alliance partner Shiv Sena and Hindutva organisations which are demanding a parliamentary law or an ordinance for construction of Ram temple.

Sena MPs on Wednesday staged a protest in the Lok Sabha demanding immediate construction of the temple.

“The issue of Ram temple was used once in the past and the BJP stood benefited by it. In case they (the BJP) raise the issue again, people do not accept an issue twice… So, I don’t think it (Ram temple) will benefit them (the BJP),” Pawar said.

The veteran politician was speaking to reporters after meeting scores of party workers who had gathered in Mumbai to greet him on his 78th birthday.

The BJP, which was in power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh since the last 15 years, lost to the Congress in the assembly polls, results for which were announced Tuesday.

The Congress also looks set to form government in Rajasthan, ruled by the saffron party until now. Stating that people do not accept the same issue twice, Pawar referred to the general elections held post Emergency and the assembly polls held in Maharashtra over the issue of ‘Samyukta (joint) Maharashtra’ in 1950s and 1960s.

He said Indira Gandhi-led Congress had to taste defeat in the 1977 Lok Sabha polls which was held after imposition of Emergency. The Janata alliance of parties, opposed to the ruling Congress party, had won that elections riding on the anti-Congress wave.

“But that issue (Emergency) did not appeal to the people when the (Lok Sabha) elections were held again (in 1980),” he noted.

Pawar also recalled the Congress was defeated in Maharashtra in 1955-56 Assembly polls over the issue of the Samyukta Maharashtra. “But in the 1962 Assembly polls, the Congress came back to power as people did not accept the Samyukta Maharashtra issue,” he added.

In his annual Vijaya Dashmi rally held in Nagpur this October, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had demanded a law to pave the way for construction of the temple on the disputed site in Ayodhya.

Many Hindu organisations have been demanding construction of the temple, as promised by the BJP before coming to power in 2014. The BJP has been saying that it was committed to the construction of the temple, but is silent on bringing an ordinance in Parliament for the purpose.

The matter of Ayodhya title suits is currently pending in the Supreme Court. – Tara Singh resigns from presidency of Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib Management Board

Sikh24 Editors

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 27 October 2018. After being summoned by the Maharashtra’s CM Devendra Fadnavis, the president of Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib Management Board Tara Singh submitted his resignation on October 26.

It is learnt that Fadnavis had summoned Tara Singh after getting apprised of the allegations being leveled against him by the Sikh masses.

Sources have revealed that Maharashtra’s CM Devendra Fadnavis asked the Board president Tara Singh to resign from the presidency during the meeting after which Tara Singh immediately submitted his resignation at 12:30 pm on October 26.

However, it couldn’t be confirmed exactly what led Tara Singh to resign from the presidency of the Management Board. It is being speculated that he has been removed due to dissatisfaction among Sikhs about the working of Tara Singh as he made two amendments in the Gurdwara Board Act-1956.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Maharashtra’s state government has begun preparations to hold elections for electing three members of Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib Management Board in December.

Whatever happened to the Sarbat Khalsa, or for that matter, with the Guru Granth Guru Panth ?
Man in Blue

The Hindu – For Sanatan Sanstha, all’s fair in the war for a Hindu Rashtra

Alok Deshpande and Gautam S Mengle

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 02 September 2018. The Sanstha, which advocates the setting up of a theocratic state, has called for the use of violence against those it considers obstacles.

“A third world war will take place between 2016 and 2018, marking the beginning of an end of anti-socials. Training to set up a “God’s kingdom” will continue from 2019 to 2022 and a Hindu Rashtra will be set up by 2023.”

These are not predictions from Nostradamus or a neighbourhood astrologer. This is the time table for the nation drawn up by Sanatan Sanstha, an extreme right-wing Hindu organisation, headed by Dr Jayant Athawale.

The outfit is under investigation for its role in the 2013 murder of rationalist Narendra Dhabolkar and more recently by the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS) following the seizure of arms and crude bombs earlier this month.

Set up by a doctor couple, Jayant and Kunda Athawale, the Sanstha claims to be working towards the formation of a “Hindu Rashtra” since 1995. The outfit began with a focus on three States, Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Known for its secretive style of functioning, entry into its ashrams is strictly by invitation only.

The Sanstha’s mouthpiece, Sanatan Prabhat, however, ensures that its followers know their enemies. Almost all political parties are termed opponents. The minorities, especially Christians and Muslims, are called the biggest obstacle in the formation of a Hindu Rahstra.

The police are not spared either. An article published in the June 9, 2013 issue of the daily says: “We cannot build a Hindu Rashtra without defeating police and the military.”

Investigations into Dabholkar’s murder revealed that the Sanatan Sanstha’s publications have been openly telling its members that violence against durjan (evil persons) is not actually violence at all.

The Sanstha’s book Kshatrabharma (Religion of Kshatriyas) gives a detailed plan of action against such durjan and their kin. “Instead of breaking one branch, if you cut the trunk, all branches will be dead,” the books states.

“If possible, try to stop these people by convincing them; but if that is not possible, then they should be punished,” it adds

Armed cadre

The book goes on to explain the need for imparting military training, including with fire arms, to members of the Sanstha. “If one fires the bullet while praying, it hits the aim. Arjuna used to pray to Shri Krishna while aiming with his arrow, hence he was the best archer,” explains the book.

Advocating an armed battle, the publication says Chhatrapati Shivaji did not set up the kingdom by winning elections. “We also have to build the Hindu Rashtra on the same path of battle,” it says.

A passage in the book asserts that the outfit will eliminate 5% of the durjan in the society by turning 10% of the population into its followers.

According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the murder Dr Dabholkar, e-mails traced to the computer at the residence of one of the arrested accused, Virendra Tawde, speak of building an army of 15,000 members.

Dr. Tawde is a member of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha. Amid claims that a section of police officers is involved with the outfit, the Kshatrabharma says: “The most infamous police department has 5% of our members. They will help us from inside.”

As per the timetable published in the Sanatan Prabhat’s June 9, 2013 edition, the years between 1999 and 2012 were meant to prepare people’s mind for the elimination of durjan.

During 2013-15, a physical, psychological and spiritual battle was to waged against these evil people. A third world war, natural calamities and elimination of durjan are supposed to take place between 2016 and 2018.

Thereafter, training for the functioning of a divine kingdom will take place from 2019-2022. Year 2023 is when the said kingdom will be established, the publication said.

Invisible leader

While Dr Athawale is seen as an incarnation of God by his followers, they are quick to point out that he has never made any such claim. Interestingly, he has not been in public for several years now.

A recent demand from the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil for a probe into Dr Athawale’s activities following the recovery of the arms cache, was dismissed by Sanstha spokesperson Chetan Rajhans, who said the ‘paratpar guru’ was busy in sadhana (meditation).

Mr Rajhans added that his disciples were capable of answering any question.

Under investigation for its alleged involvement in the murder of three noted rationalists and one journalist, Narendra Dhabolkar (2013), Govind Pansare (2015), M M Kalburi (2015) and Gauri Lankesh (2017), the Sanstha has always advocated the need to oppose ‘thinkers’.

An article in Sanatan Prabhat for instance says: “It’s a crusade. Revolutionary battle is inevitable to set up Hindu Rashtra. You will claim heaven if you die in this crusade and if you win, you will win the Earth.”

Ahead of the recent investigations into its role in advocating violence, the Sanstha has been accused by former members for indoctrinating adherents. A former close associate and co-author with Dr Athawale of the Sanstha’s early books, Ashutosh Prabhudesai, a psychiatrist is among those who have left this “cult” on a bitter note.

Dr Prabhudesai has accused Dr Athawale of interfering in his marital life and influencing his first wife to divorce him. In an affidavit filed in a local court in Panaji in 2009, Dr Prabhudesai said his wife was being indoctrinated by Dr Athawale.

The accusation was echoed by Vijay Rokade, a resident of Khopoli near Mumbai. Mr Rokade approached the Bombay High Court in December 2011 claiming the Sanstha had applied “’Ericksonian Hypnosis” on its followers and that his wife had refused to return home after joining the Sanstha’s ashram at Panvel.

Mr Rokade’s complaint was backed up by similar complaints from four other families. The petitions have been clubbed and are now pending in the High Court.

ATS crackdown

The crackdown by the Maharashta Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) began on August 10, 2018 with the arrest of Vaibhav Raut and Sharad Kalaskar from Nallasopara and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar from Pune.

Mr Raut is a member of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti, while Mr. Gondhalekar is part of the Shri Shivapratisthan Hindustan, both right wing groups.

Mr Raut is known in Nallasopara as a “daring gaurakshak”, while Mr Gondhalekar’s outfit is headed by Sambhaji Bhide, who was booked for instigating the Bhima-Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018.

Though the Sanatan Sanstha has denied that any of the arrested accused are members of its organisation, it claimed that they work for the greater goal of Hindutva and participated in Sanstha’s programmes as a part of that objective.

However, Mr Raut was seen on the platform of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS), a sister organisation of the Sanstha, to address a press conference against Kanhaiya Kumar in 2016. He also attended programmes organised by Sanstha.

The first seizure of eight crude bombs was on the night of August 9 from Mr Raut’s residence when he was picked up for inquiries. The next morning after he was formally placed under arrest, the ATS went on to raid a commercial space in Nallasopara owned by him.

The massive cache seized from Nallasopara included 12 more crude bombs, two gelatin sticks, four electronic detonators, 22 non-electronic detonators, safety fuse wires, 150 grams of a white powder wrapped in newspaper, two one-litre bottles labelled ‘Poison’, 10 batteries, a six volt battery, a cutter, a hacksaw, soldering equipment, three switches, two complete PCB circuits, a partially completed PCB circuit, six battery connectors, two battery containers, four relay switches, eight resistors, six transistors, lengths of wires, a multimeter, handgloves, adhesive solution and a hand drawn, partially complete circuit diagram.

The ATS’ seizures pointed to a State-wide, highly organised plan.

“The arsenal had obviously been stocked over time, and was being assembled by Mr Raut and Mr Kalaskar. We have information to indicate that they had help from others in this, and are working on identifying and apprehending these people as well,” an ATS officer said.

A day later, on August 11, the ATS also seized 10 country made pistols, along with six partially made pistols, ten barrels, three partially made magazines, seven partially complete sliding mechanisms and other gun parts from a commercial space owned by Mr. Gondhalekar.

The gunmen

Their interrogation, however, provided the first big twist in the tale. Mr Kalaskar, according to the ATS, confessed that he was “directly involved” in the 2013 murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and also named his co-accused, Sachin Andure. The ATS subsequently summoned Mr Andure, a resident of Aurangabad, for questioning and handed him over to the Central Bureau of Investigation after his alleged involvement was established.

The CBI said subsequent inquiries confirmed that Mr Andure and Mr Kalaskar had gunned down Dr. Dabholkar.

The ATS, also arrested two more accused — Shrikant Pangarkar from Jalna and Avinash Pawar from Ghatkopar in Mumbai.

On August 28 at a custody hearing, the ATS told the court that Mr Raut and his co-accused were planning to target the Sunburn festival in Pune and had also conducted a recce of the venue. Other targets of the accused, according to the ATS, included movie theatres in Belgaum where the movie Padmaavat was released.

On August 29, the CBI, while seeking additional custody of Mr. Andure, told the court that he and Mr. Kalaskar had links with the three accused arrested by the Bengaluru SIT for the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, and that these links were being probed further. – Mumbai Sikhs Ordered to Evacuate Flats by October 31

Sikh24 Editors

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 06 August 2018. While the issue of Meghalaya state government’s forceful attempt to evict Sikhs from the Punjabi lane area of Shillong is still in the news, the community is going to come across an another such attempt by the Maharshtra state government.

This time, Sikhs are being forcefully evicted from the Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar (GTBN) situated in the Mumbai’s Sion Koliwada.

As per information from local sources, the Mumbai’s municipal corporation has declared the 21 buildings of Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar as dangerous and unfit to live in and has ordered the flat owners to vacate their homes by 31 October.

The municipal corporation has furthered secured an order from the Bombay High Court asking the residents to submit an undertaking confirming that they will move out.

Sharing the development with Sikh24, GTBN resident S Raghbir Singh informed that their predecessors were allotted flats in Mumbai by the Indian government when they were forced to leave their homes in Pakistan during 1947’s partition.

He added that about 1200 Sikh families were accommodated in Mumbai by the Indian government in 1957 after their eviction from Pakistan during 1947’s partition.

“Our predecessors were illiterate, so they didn’t care about getting the written assurance for permanent occupation of the land of flats allotted to them by the government at that time. But now after 60 years, the government is telling us the land is a state property so we should evict it by October 31,” he added.

S Raghbir Singh further informed that 31 such colonies were given to refugees at that time and at present there are 2 schools, 1 college, 7 Gurdwaras and 3 Temples in these colonies.

87 years old S Rawel Singh Khosla, who also migrated to India during 1947’s partition, told Sikh24 that his family owned 13 acres of fertile land in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province but after 1947’s partition they were helpless to live in a 230-square-foot room in Mumbai’s Sion Koliwada refugee camp.

He said that the building, in which his 230 square foot flat lies, is in extremely critical condition, but he can’t move out as he doesn’t want to become a refugee again.

S Jaspal Singh Banga, who lives along with his family including ailing mother in one of these buildings, questioned what is surety that the government will give them back their property even if they leave under pressure being exerted on them?

Contemporary victims of 1947’s partition informed that the refugee Sikhs and Hindus had set up tents in and around the old military barracks in Sion Koliwada of Mumbai after migrating there.

Later, the government built 25 four-floored buildings there and sold flats to 1200 families at the cost of Rupees 5830/-. It is learnt that refugee families became owner of flats, but the land, which initially belonged to the Indian president, later got conferred to the Maharashtra’s state government.

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