Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hindu group charged in Goa bomb blast

Federal investigators have charged 11 people, including six members of a rightwing Hindu group, over bomb blasts that occurred during a popular Indian festival in Goa.
The National Investigating Agency (NIA) on May 17 presented to a court in Goa a 3,000-page document accusing 11 people of criminally conspiring to terrorize people.
Six of the accused belong to the Sanatan Sanstha (eternal foundation), a radical Hindu group. Two of its members were killed when bombs they were transporting exploded on Oct. 16, 2009, during Diwali, the festival of lights.
According to the charge sheet, the accused had between June and October last year conspired to strike terror among Diwali merry makers.
It alleged the accused had conducted a rehearsal a few months before the accidental blast.
The NIA has named 250 witnesses in the case.
Four of the accused are in judicial custody, five have absconded and the rest are expected to be arrested soon.
Sanatan Sanstha had opposed glorifying Narkasur, a demon, during Diwali. Festival organizers conduct statewide contests for the most evil-looking effigy of the demon.
The charge sheet does not directly name Sanatan Sanstha, but states the conspiracy was hatched at one of its centers.
Sanatan Sanstha has shown “extreme interest” in Hindu religious matters and organized martial arts training in Goa’s northern region, where Hindus are a majority, the charges state.
Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat said his government would study the charge sheet before deciding to ban the Hindu outfit.
Virendra Marathe, a Sanatan Sanstha official, said his organization has denied involvement in the blasts. However, the police have confiscated the center’s documents and computer hard disks as part of their investigations.

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