Union Minister of State (MoS) for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale on Monday said that "if needed" Hindu right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha should be "completely banned."
"Sanatan Sanstha will have to stop its violent activities. If it was involved in the murders of Dr Narendra Dabholkar and Gauri Lankesh then action needs to be taken against it. The culprits should be nabbed as soon as possible. If needed, the organisation should be completely banned," Athawale said at a press conference here.
Athawale's statement comes after Sanatan Sanstha earlier in the day denied reports of any involvement in the Dabholkar and Lankesh death cases.
"The nine people recently arrested don't belong to Sanathan Sanstha, which is being targeted unnecessarily in these circumstances. Out of the nine people, five are those, whose names we have come to know through media only. There are different types of people who are referred to as Sanathan workers and I want to clear that none of the arrested are connected with our outfit," Sanathan Sanstha spokesperson Chetan Rajhans said.
"Just because these people came to Sansthan ashrams, these people can't be connected with us. The ATS in its press conference has mentioned that the investigation is not completed and is in its initial phase. We have decided to go judicial way to stop these rumours. We have always followed proper procedures, therefore, I request everyone not to target Sanathan Sansthan and have proper information before you write or speak," he added.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had earlier recovered the pistol used for killing Bengaluru-based journalist-cum-activist Gauri Lankesh while investigating the Narendra Dabholkar murder case, thus establishing a connection between the two murders.
The pistol was recovered from Shubham Surale, the brother-in-law of Sachin Andure, an accused in the Dabholkar murder case, who was arrested from Aurangabad by the CBI on August 18.
Narendra Dabholkar, who was the founder of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), was shot dead on August 20, 2013, by bike-borne assailants while returning home from a morning walk, while Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her Bengaluru residence on September 5 last year.