Family members of murdered leader Govind Pansare write to Maha ATS, emphasise the need to investigating role of Sanathan Sanstha in killing intellectuals

Through the letter, a link between the killing of four people, namely Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Comrade Govind Pansare, Ms. Gauri Lankesh, Prof. M.M. Kalburgi, activist and journalists actively working to counter Hindutva extremism, was pointed out; the letter comes forth as the case is being heard by Bombay High Court, next hearing is on July 12
Image Courtesy:

On June 27, family members of murdered leader Comrade Govind Pansare addressed a detailed letter to Jayant Meena, to Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), providing them with a detailed account of the role that pro-Hindutva outfit Sanatan Sanstha played in carrying out a plan to kill intellectuals in Maharashtra and Karnataka. The information provided by the family members of Pansare— Dr Megha Pansare, Smita Pansare and Adv. Kabeer Pansare brought several facts to light based on the chargesheets filed in the cases of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Comrade Govind Pansare, Ms. Gauri Lankesh, Prof. M.M. Kalburgi and the Nalasopara Weapons Seizure Case. This letter comes ahead of the hearing of the Pansare murder case before the Bombay High Court.

Through the letter, a link between the killings of these four people, activist and journalists actively working to counter Hindutva extremism, was pointed out in the letter. “We would like to draw your attention to the five chargesheets filed in the case of Comrade Pansare. Twelve persons have been arrayed as accused. Two of the twelve accused have been declared absconding. All the accused are members of Sanatan Sanstha and/or Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and some of the accused are also named in the murder cases of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Prof. M.M. Kalburgi and Ms. Gauri Lankesh and Nalasopara Weapons Seizure Case, and other related cases, which proves that there exists a common link. The list of all accused along with the references being members of Sanatan Sanstha and their involvement is reflected in the chargesheets itself.” (Para 4)

The family claimed that the ATS and other agencies like CBI, Maharashtra Police, Karnataka Police and Goa Police are fully aware of the role of that Sanatan Sanstha and its ‘sadhaks’ played in the four murders and other heinous crimes.

However, for reasons best known to the investigating agencies, this angle has not been examined. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the role of ‘Sanatan Sanstha’ and the people governing Sanatan Sanstha, as an organised terrorist network of criminals, acting under the guidance and directions of Mr. Jayant Athavale and Mr. Virendra Marathe.” (Para 6)

The letter goes on to highlight certain instances which elaborate on the organised network of Sanatan Sanstha and the masterminds. These instances involved offenses of organised crimes, possession of arms, usage of drugs and psychiatric medicines, funding and financing terror activities, and arms and weapon training. 

“The details of the training sessions held by members of Sanatan Sanstha have been placed on record, although no investigation can be witnessed to identify the masterminds. Although, no investigation can be witnessed with respect to the organised movement of all the accused and the manner in which the accused have been provided with resources. On the face of the record, it is crystal clear that such activities cannot be generated by Dr. Virendra Tawade alone. This further proves that the masterminds are still at large and have not been brought before the investigation.”

“We are drawing your attention to the organized movement of the accused to track intellectuals in different places across the country and to provide shelter to the youth to carry out arms training sessions. It is revealed that the accused were provided with homes at Jalna, Nalasopara, Pune, Satara, Belgaavi, etc. and each accused was assigned a different location to carry out arms training session, namely, Chikhale, Belgaavi, Karnataka, Pokal, Vadgaav, Jalna, Mulkhed, Mulshi, Pune, etc. It is surprising that while all the information and facts set out in the present representation are already on record, it appears that ATS has failed to consider the same while investigating the present case of Comrade Pansare.”

On bare perusal of the chargesheet filed by ATS in the Nalasopara case, it has been categorically recorded that the objective of Sanatan Sanstha and its members is to terrorize the society at large and carry out terrorist activities, motivated by Kshatradharma Sadhna,” the letter further claimed. 

In regards to the Nalasopara explosives seizure case, the letter provided that a large numbers of pistols, bombs and explosives were seized by Maharashtra ATS in 2018 and a chargesheet was filed on February 18, 2019, against twelve persons, who are members of Sanatan Sanstha and/or Hindu Janjagruti Samiti.

“….facts and circumstances produced state that there exists a larger conspiracy and involvement of masterminds beyond the arrayed accused. The investigating agency ought to have examined the office bearers of Sanatan Sanstha whose involvement in larger conspiracy cannot be ruled out. From the use of psychiatric drugs on its members without their consent to planning and executing murders and bomb-blasts, it cannot be said that these conspiracies are possible with involvement of only members of Sanatan Sanstha.” (Para 7)

Emphasising upon the severity of these crimes, the letter urged the authorities to examine the role of Sanatan Sanstha and the people governing it as an “organised terrorist network of criminals acting under the guidance and directions” of Jayant Athavale and Virendra Marathe. 

Bringing us back to the violent ideologies preached by the Sanstha as well as the painting of the ones killed as “anti-Hindus”, the letter provided how the convicts and other accused are acting on the ideology propositioned and nurtured by Sanatan Sanstha and its founders and/or leaders such as Mr. Jayant Athavale, Mr. Virendra Marathe, and others. 

Comrade Pansare was bitterly opposed by right-wing Hindutva organisations such as Sanatan Sanstha, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, etc, for his ideologies of secularism, rationality, equality, and lifelong work of uplifting the marginalised and authoring books like Shivaji Kon Hota?,” the letter stated. (Para 10)

Based on the submissions made, allegations raised and material provided, the Pansare family demanded that ‘necessary steps’ must be taken against Sanatan Sanstha founder Dr Jayant Athavale, its leader Virendra Marathe and others for their alleged role in Pansare murder case. 

“It is evident from the observations produced hereinabove and findings produced that Sanatan Sanstha, and its leaders are the true master minds of the murder of Dr. Dabholkar and also Comrade Pansare. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate and unravel the conspiracy hatched by Sanatan Sanstha and its leaders, which CBI failed in case of Dr. Dabholkar. You will appreciate that there exists a common sophisticated network of organised criminals / organised crime syndicate of Sanatan Sanstha behind the four murders. It is not a mere coincidence that the members of Sanatan Sanstha have been and are being accused / convicted in ghastly crimes since more than a decade.” (Para 11)

Notably, the Bombay high court will be hearing the matter on July 12.

Brief Background:

Comrade Govind Pansare, a rationalist, trade unionist, social activist and leader of Communist Party of India along with his wife, Uma were attacked by two youths on a motor-cycle on 16 February, 2015, near his home in Kolhapur. He died four days later on 20 February, 2015, at the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai. Initially, the case was being probed by a special team of the state CID, which had arrested 12 people. The trial against them is ongoing. However, in 2022, the case was transferred to the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) after the activist’s family said the CID had not nabbed the conspirators of the crime. Since then, the ATS has been submitting periodic probe reports to the court in sealed covers.

Dr Narendra Dabholkar was a rationalist and anti-superstition activist, who was the founder of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS). He was shot dead on 20 June, 2013, by two unidentified gunmen near Omkareshwar temple in Pune.  

Prof Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, a noted scholar and writer, had run-ins with right-wing Hindutva groups for many years. He was shot dead on 30 August, 2015, by unidentified gunman at the former’s residence in Kalyan Nagar locality of Dharwad. 

Gauri Lankesh, journalist-turned-activist was shot dead outside her residence in Bengaluru on 5 September, 2017. She worked as an editor in Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada weekly started by her father P Lankesh, and ran her own weekly called Gauri Lankesh Patrike.


Gauri Lankesh assassination: 6 years down, no closure for family and friends, justice elusive

Gauri Lankesh Assassination: Accused denied bail by Aurangabad HC

Gauri Lankesh case: Why is the Defence harping on alleged “Naxalite connections”, family fued?



Related Articles