The recent scooter bomb attack in Goa [ Images ] has come as a rude shock. That's because, though Intelligence reports had warned about such an attack, they did not expect the finger of suspicion to be pointed at a right-wing Hindu organisation.
However, the Sanatan Sanstha -- the right-wing organisation under probe -- strongly denies the allegations and says the 'system is trying to frame them'.
Abhay Vartak, convenor of the Sanstha, says that their approach towards issues is what has put them in this situation. In an interview with rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa, Vartak speaks about the Margao blast and about why he thinks that the organisation is being framed.
You have been blamed for the Margao blast. What is your take on this?
We have said many times in the past few days that we are not behind this attack. I think the police or the Goa government should investigate properly before coming to any conclusion.
This is not the first time your organisation's name has cropped up in some incident such as this. There was a remark made at the time of the Malegaon blast or the blast in a Thane theatre.
Yes, we have been dragged into incidents. This is the kind of trend I have been noticing since the past six years and I am really tired of shouting from roof-tops that we are in no way connected to incidents of terrorism.
There must be some reason
Don't you think there are some extremist elements in your organisation?
No, that is not true. The Sanstha believes in raising its voice against injustice and we work for the uplift of the community. We have spoken against the government on several occasions and that is what has irked them. By making such allegations the government thinks that they can bog us down.
However, what is interesting is that despite making so many allegations, they have not been able to bog us down and the Sanstha continues to do the work for which it was set up in the first place.
Your organisation is very Maharashtra [ Images ] centric. What is this connection with Goa?
The organisation has always been active in Goa. We have doing our work there too.
However, the Sanstha sprung into the limelight when it raised its voice against the demolition of temples and desecration of idols in Goa. Idols in at least 30 temples were desecrated in the past two years and the Sanstha has been staging protests.
The Goa government was under a lot of pressure to act. However they did not make a single arrest. The Goa government realised that the best way to shut our voices was by falsely implicating us in a case of terrorism. This is exactly what happened in the aftermath of the Margao blasts.
If the government is dragging your name, they would have done so with some substance. It is not easy to blame someone and then wriggle out it. Terrorism [ Images ] is a very serious charge after all.
They will have to change their statement and clarify on the same. The police have not linked us in this blast and so I fail to understand how the government even came to that conclusion.
The police have said that the Nishaad Bakhale, one of the accused in the case, is associated with the Sanstha. The name of Yogesh Naik, a member of the Sanstha, who was injured in the blast and died on Tuesday, also crops up
Nishaad Bakhale is not at all associated with the Sanatan Sanstha. The media has been constantly stating that the owner of the scooter is the sadhak (follower) of Sanatan Sanstha. But, in fact, Bakhale is neither our sadhak nor is there any relation between the two. Yogesh Naik used to come to Sanatan's ashram to deliver milk and his linkage with the organisation is limited to this extent only.
The police are probing your foreign links. What is your take on this?
Ours is a worldwide organisation and there are many foreigners who visit our ashram. Is there anything wrong in that? All donations that are made are declared before the charity commissioner and it is an open chapter and anyone is free to check that. We don't mind if the police probe this angle too. The truth is that our organisation does not believe in terrorism. We only raise our voice against injustice and do not resort to violence.