Hindutva outfit Sanathan Sanstha on Tuesday accused the special investigation team inquiring into journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder of “framing” it in the case, PTI reported. The team has so far arrested 16 people, and alleged in its chargesheet filed before a court in Bengaluru last month that an organised crime syndicate inspired by the Sanathan Sanstha carried out the murder.

The police team has alleged that the murderers were inspired by a book, Kshatra Dharma Sadhana, that the Hindutva group had published. The Karnataka Police team has named 18 accused in its chargesheet, and said that the murder was planned for five years.

Sanathan Sanstha spokesperson Chetan Rajhans compared the SIT’s allegations to the Malegaon blasts case. “Attempts were made to fix us in the Malegaon case and we came out clean,” he told reporters at a press conference in Bengaluru. “This is Malegaon-2. If a group inspired by our book makes us answerable, then who should be accountable for jihad and Naxalism?”

“We never believed in violence, as our primary objective is sadhana [spiritual practice] on the lines of the Sanstha’s philosophy,” he added.

Ramesh Shinde, a spokesperson for the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, conceded that Amol Kale, one of the alleged masterminds of the attack, was associated with the organisation, but claimed he had left it 10 years ago. He alleged that another investigation, into the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, was taking place in a “shoddy” way.

In August, the Central Bureau of Investigation had told a court in Pune that the murders of Dabholkar in 2013 and that of Lankesh were linked. The agency had said a suspect in the Lankesh case had handed over a pistol and three bullets to the prime accused in the Dabholkar case.