Right wing Hindu organisation Sanatan Sanstha on Wednesday appeared to gloat over the killing of social reformer and anti-superstitions crusader Narendra Dabholkar in Pune.
In a front-page statement in its daily mouthpiece "Sanatan Prabhat", Sanatan Sanstha leader Jayant Athavale said births and deaths are pre-destined and everybody gets the fruit of their karma.
"Instead of dying bedridden through illness, or after some surgery, such a death for Dabholkar is a blessing of the almighty," Athavale said in the statement.
Dabholkar was shot dead by unidentified motorcycle-riding assailants Tuesday 7.30 a.m. near Omkareshwar Temple in Pune while he was on his morning walk.
A day after the Sanatan Sanstha expressed regrets over the killing and distanced itself from the crime, Athavale said "though Dabholkar was an atheist and did not believe in god, the same god would give solace to the departed soul".
Taking umbrage at the statement, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) demanded that the state government should ban the Sanatan Sanstha.
Maharashtra NCP working president Jitendra Awhad said such statements for a social reformer like Dabholkar were "unacceptable" and the "fanatical organisation should be banned immediately".
However, a spokesman for the Hindu right-wing organisation denied that it had anything to do with Dabholkar's killing.
"We are also equally shocked by his killing. We have nothing to do with it," Sanatan Sanstha member Abhay Vartak said.
"We had differences of ideology with him... nothing on a personal level and he was doing commendable work," Vartak said.
He also defended Athavale editorial by claiming that "not a single word" in it was offensive in any manner.
Vartak appealed to the media not to make "a scapegoat" of Sanatan Sanstha.