CBI and Maharashtra ATS crackdown on fringe groups shows Modi govt is willing to let law take its own course

The proverbial long arm of the law is finally catching up with radical Hindu group Sanatan Sanstha and individuals from other fringe groups. The crackdown against the extremist fringe in cases related to the murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi is led by the CBI and Maharashtra ATS.

The CBI is within the purview of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Maharashtra ATS is within the purview of the Devendra Fadnavis government. Goa, where Sanatan Sanstha is based, is ruled by the Manohar Parrikar government. And the police there is deeply involved in the investigation.

The way the investigations are going forward — arrests of some accused persons and recovery of huge amounts of arms and ammunition, mostly country made stuff — clearly indicates that the BJP governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra and Goa have taken a considered decision that the law must take its own course, irrespective of the caste, creed and religion of those behind the heinous crimes.

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

By doing so, the political leadership in the Modi government has intended to send a message across that it wouldn’t distinguish on the basis of the colour of terror and those trying to disturb communal harmony. The government agencies are simply doing their legally obligated duty. But then, it’s no secret that actions of law enforcement agencies are often guided by the whims of political leadership.

In the present case, the Centre has shown desired conviction to let its various arms perform their rightful duty. After ATS raids and recovery of arms and ammunition from a hideout of a fringe group, Maharastra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis issued a strong statement against the group in question, indicating the resolve of the state government to go after these anti-social elements.

News18 reported how Maharastra government had collected a lot of documentary evidence against Sanatan Sanstha in 2011 and had sent a formal proposal to the then UPA government at the Centre to ban the outfit. Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had told News18, "When I was the CM in April 2011, Maharashtra Police brought before me a lot of documentary evidence and a big dossier on this organisation. After studying it, we came to the conclusion that we should ban this organisation and sent a formal proposal to the Union Home Ministry.”

The deliberations went on for two years from 2011 to 2013. But ultimately, the Congress-led UPA government developed cold feet because of the fear of being branded anti-Hindu ahead of the 2014 elections.

The Modi government has indicated that it does not have any such fears. In fact, any extreme act by a radical fringe group is counterproductive for BJP’s image and impacts it socially and electorally.

Political rivals and critics may question Modi over every single crime, particularly those of socially and communally sensitive nature. But the fact remains that he has been conscious enough to take a position even when he was chief minister of Gujarat. At that time, VHP and other such organiations — which claimed to aggressively stand for the Hindu cause — were marginalised.

The likes of Pravin Togadia were declared persona non grata, no communal flare up was allowed in post-2002 Gujarat, no matter how provocative the situation may have been. Many temples, which had come up on public land, were removed for redevelopment of regions concerned and miscreants were booked under the law.

As prime minister, he has come out strongly against lynching of any kind and against the so-called gau rakshaks. He has directed the state governments to come down heavily against these elements. His words may not have yielded results the way he wanted it, but it also a fact that after he sent out a clear signal, the state governments and their agencies began reacting to such situation with some sincerity.

Modi can’t allow the fringe to take away his central plank, development, something for which people overwhelmingly voted him to power in 2014. So far, the actions of fringe would stick to BJP. That was because the BJP leadership didn’t take them on as it should have done otherwise.

The murder of Gauri Lankesh proved to be hugely detrimental for BJP's image. Though it was not an issue in Karnataka elections, its impact was felt in the rest of the nation. Now that leads from investigations in the Lankesh murder have led to fringe groups in Goa and Maharashtra, the BJP leadership is using that as an opportunity to make its position clear in this count – Hindu fringe is different from Hindutva or cultural nationalism that BJP has been propagating.

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Updated Date: Aug 22, 2018 23:07:13 IST

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