Goa minister and Maharashtawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) leader Sudin Dhavalikar on Tuesday defended the Sanatan Sanstha, saying it is working in the interest of Hindu culture and religion and is not against the country.
The remarks came a day after a news channel, which conducted a sting operation, claimed the Goa-based right-wing outfit enjoyed political patronage due to which it escaped a ban after its alleged role in the 2009 Margao bomb blast.
Two suspected Sanatan Sanstha workers had died when a bomb they were ferrying to Margao in Goa accidentally exploded in November 2009.
Police also suspect involvement of activists linked to the Sanatan Sanstha in the killings of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh.
However, the outfit, which has its headquarters at Ramnathi village in North Goa district, has denied any involvement in these cases.
When asked about the Sanatan Sanstha's role in criminal activities, Mr Dhavalikar told reporters in Panaji that investigations were on in various cases and "court will decide whether they (activists of the outfit) were really guilty".
"Sanatan is doing work for Hindu religion and culture. I don't think that they are doing any work against the country," said the leader of the MGP, an ally of the BJP-led state government.
The public works department minister admitted that his family has been associated with the Sanatan Sanstha.
"My family and I are associated with Sanatan to spread Hindu religion. Sanatan doesn't believe in violence. It is working to spread the Hindu religion and culture and we support all organisations which do similar work," he said.
Asked whether he financially supported the organisation, Mr Dhavalikar said "I only give advertisements to it (the outfit's magazine)."
Notably, MGP president Dipak Dhavalikar, who is Sudin Dhavalikar's brother, had last month claimed the Sanatan Sanstha was not involved in the killings of rationalists and activists and that some people want to project the outfit as a "wrong-doer".