Hindutva organisation Sanathan Sanstha on Monday distanced itself from all the people arrested so far in connection with the Nalasopara arms case and the Narendra Dabholkar murder case.

“None of them have ever been a part of our organisation,” Sanathan Sanstha spokesperson Chetan Rajhans said, according to The Wire. “They must have attended our meetings and must have been staunch supporters of Hindutva, but that does not mean they have been a part of Sanathan Sanstha.”

The Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, an off-shoot of the Sanathan Sanstha, claimed the police have not “directly implicated” any of its followers. “It’s a witch hunt that began soon after Panvel and Thane bomb blast incidents in 2008. But the police has not named us in a single FIR or chargesheet,” Rajhans and Sunil Ghanwat of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti said. “There have been demands made to ban our organisation. But these demands are baseless and made with malicious intentions.”

“We exposed the corruption of these people, so the families of Dabholkar and Pansare along with Congress leader Vikhe Patil are taking revenge by targeting us,” Ghanwant claimed, according to News18.

“The ATS [Anti-Terrorism Squad] has said the investigation is at a preliminary stage and they cannot yet say if the accused are associated with any organisations,” Rajhans was quoted as saying by The Print. “Maharashtra’s Minister of State for Home, Deepak Kesarkar, also said the same. But still there is a discourse, quoting ‘official sources’, that is blaming Sanathan Sanstha for everything. We have decided to take legal action against such false stories.”

The arrests

On August 10, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested three members – Hindutva activist Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar – for allegedly being part of a conspiracy to carry out blasts across the state. The police found a large stash of crude bombs and weapons at Raut’s office and home. Raut is a co-founder of cow protection group Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti, which is said to be affiliated with the right-wing Hindu Janajagruti Samiti.

Ten days later, the Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested former Shiv Sena corporator Shrikant Pangarkar in connection with the arms case. The Central Bureau of Investigation had detained Pangarkar days earlier in connection with the murder of rationalist and author Narendra Dabholkar in 2013. The Shiv Sena has said he is not with the party any more.

The suspects told the Anti-Terrorism Squad that Pangarkar had helped them assemble the explosives and store them. They also claimed that a man called Sachin Prakasrao Andure was involved in Dabholkar’s murder. Andure was arrested on August 18 by the Central Bureau of Investigation. He also mentioned Pangarkar’s name during interrogation, and said he was with him at the time of the murder.

On August 24, another man, Avinash Pawar, was arrested in connection with the seizure of explosives. The official said the accused revealed Pawar’s name during interrogation.

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Sunday told a court in Pune that the murders of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar in 2013 and journalist Gauri Lankesh in 2017 were linked. The agency has also sought the custody of Sharad Kalaskar in connection with the Dabholkar case.