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Aug 20 2013

An atheist and anti-superstition activist was shot dead in religious and superstitious India.

Anti-Superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar is shot dead in superstitious India. He was killed because he committed a crime, his crime was he fought against superstitions and he wanted to eradicate deep rooted superstitions in India.

Narendra Dabholkar, leading anti-superstition campaigner, social worker and journalist, was gunned down in Pune by unidentified motorcycle-riding assailants, police said.

The attack took place around 7.30 a.m. near Omkareshwar Temple, when Dabholkar, in his 60s, was on his morning walk.The two gunmen fired indiscriminately at Dabholkar and sped away, leaving him in a pool of blood.The victim was rushed by other co-walkers to Sassoon Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Dabholkar, a doctor, was at the forefront of a campaign to persuade the Maharashtra Government to pass an anti-superstition and black magic bill called the anti-JaduTona bill. Right wing Hindu groups, including certain sections of the Warkari Sect and political parties had been opposing to the bill.

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A rationalist known for his bold views and sustained campaign against superstitions for over three decades, Dabholkar had rubbed many people the wrong way.In his 60s, he was largely instrumental in pushing the state government to frame an anti-superstition law which is in the final stages of legislative approval.

In 1989, he founded the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS)– the Committee for the Eradication of Blind Faith –, along with a few like-minded people and raised cudgels against all types of superstitions, irrational practices, blind faith and beliefs, confronting dubious tantriks and babas who preyed on the gullible masses.

He also led agitations against superstitions, animal sacrifices and even water pollution, wrote columns and articles on his favourite topics and was editor of a couple of journals dedicated to the cause.

A look at the website antisuperstition.org showed how passionate he was about the cause and showcased the depth of his research about the topic. The site explains many superstitions like ghosts, black magic, witchcraft and provides scientific arguments against them.It also lists down many activities that one can undertake to dispel such superstitions and support the cause.

Dabholkar, known for his campaigns to promote progressive and scientific thought, had for several years been lobbying for Maharashtra state’s parliament to pass legislation banning superstition and black magic.

Two years ago, in an interview with AFP, he rejected critics’ charges that the bill was anti-religion.

“In the whole of the bill, there’s not a single word about God or religion. Nothing like that. The Indian constitution allows freedom of worship and nobody can take that away,” he said.

“This is about fraudulent and exploitative practices,” he said.

Over the years, Dabholkar had also challenged some of India’s “godmen,” self-styled Hindu ascetics who have huge followings, over their claims of “miracles” performed. He has also campaigned against animal sacrifices sometimes used during religious rituals.

Dabholkar, who Indian media said was aged 71, was editor of a magazine called “Sadhana” or spiritual practice, devoted to the propagation of progressive thought.

Dabholkar’s killing has been widely condemned by people from all sections of society and political parties alike. But if our netas truly want to honour his life, they should give the Anti-Superstition bill, for which he fought so fervently, a serious thought , rather than engaging in mere lip service.

What a loss!
Let’s all shed tears for this loss. Let’s salute brave Narendra Dabholkar for his great struggle. Let’s bow to him.

Someone told me today, ‘you should be careful’. I was asked to be careful because I have been doing the same work Narendra Dabholkar was doing. I am fighting against religion and superstitions and trying to encourage people to have scientific outlook. I would probably be killed one day exactly the same way Dabholkar was killed today. He got four bullets. I would get ten bullets. Two bullets for fighting religion, two bullets for fighting superstitions, and six bullets for fighting misogyny. Indian society is not only superstitious, it is a very misogynistic.
No, I am not worried for myself. I am sad today for losing a great man. India needs people like Narendra Dabholkar more than India needs anything.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    Taslima,
    That’s so awful. I feel sad for Narendra and his family. I feel sad for the world that it has such violent people in it and one less brave person willing to speak truth to authority. You are so brave. I applaud your resolve to do the right thing, but I regret that such resolve is necessary at all. Thank you for writing about this and for the the things you stand for.

  2. 2
    Brianne Bilyeu

    This is incredibly sad. I mourn the fact that I only learn of Narendra Dabholkar after this tragic crime. Thank you for spreading the news of his life and work here, Taslima.

  3. 3
    left0ver1under

    I hope I’m not derailing (pun definitely not intended) your post by brigning this up, but Dabholkar’s murder is not the only recent one in India due to religious fanaticism.

    Thirty seven religious pilgrims died when they ignored warnings and crossed a closed train track without permission. Worse still, after the train stopped and the drivers tried to help, the mob of pilgrims committed arson against the train and assaulted or murdered the drivers (news reports differ on how many and whether they are dead).

  4. 4
    Lothars Sohn

    Hey Taslima, I’ve discovered your fascinating blog with a lot of interest and I admire your courage to face injustice and oppression.

    I’ve one question: do you believe that all religions are equally harmful, or that some are more than others?

    Kind regards.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  5. 5
    sazu

    তসলিমা নাসরিন এর মানবাধিকার ও নাগরিক অধিকার লঙ্ঘন এর প্রতিবাদে এবং তা সমুন্নত রাখার দাবিতে মানব বন্ধন
    https://www.facebook.com/events/250437221770417

  6. 6
    UJJAL

    It happens in this subcontinent the most. Religion has taught them to be only intolerent and converted them to murderers.
    As it is due to family bringing up and later due to greed people stick to be religious, only a few come out of the tangle and become rationalists. From the few people we have, if we have to loose leaders, its too sad an event to just accept quietly.
    Yes, you need to be careful didi. I remember the day when goons were out in Dacca. I remember the day when goons vandalized the city of Kolkata under a communist ( ha ha haaa…) regime.
    All atheists need to be careful and brave at the same time.

  7. 7
    Larry Olson

    I feel you and hear you too. As a matter of face I hate when fairy tales are used to explain the world, it’s origin and how a book is used to enslave people. I hate how old men steal money from other lonely old people and we say, ‘amen’.

    As a Meteorologist and Physicist I will not go out of my way to bash people of faith, as long as they own it and do not try to oppress others. I love people who dare champion the plight of the poor and sometimes they lose their lives…..

    Long live the memory of that great man.

  8. 8
    Mriganka Bhattacharyya

    :(

  9. 9
    dezn_98

    Wow…. that is incredibly scary.

    Stay strong. I wish you the best.

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