Remembering Narendra Dabholkar

The IHEU has compiled reactions to the murder of Narendra Dabholkar.

The Humanist and rationalist community in India has reacted with dignified anger and sadness, remembering an effective and stalwart campaigner, dedicated to the people of Maharashtra but always ready to cooperate across organizational boundaries. He was one of India’s foremost rationalists, working for social justice, against  caste discrimination, and exposing the so-called miracles of exploititive ‘godmen’. His work was well-known, and some aspect of it is widely believed to have motivated his killers.

The law against fraud via superstion was passed.

Dabholkar also lead the campaign for an anti-superstition Bill in Maharashtra state, and in the space of two days since his assassination, the state government has — after eight years of campaigning by activists and prevarication by the authorities — finally pushed through the Bill which Dabholkar worked so hard to see implemented.

The Maharashtra state government enacted an emergency ordinance to ban rituals, superstition and black magic. A bill similar to which Dr Dabholkar had been campaigning for must still be endorsed by the parliament. Previous versions of the Bill had been approved by the cabinet but lapsed before they could be put to a vote, despite being on the list for eight years. The emergency legislation makes it an offence to exploit or defraud people with ‘magical’ rituals, charms and cures.

One of the many statements:

Vidya Bhushan Rawat of the Social Development Foundation told IHEU, “The work carried by him and his organisation is enormous. India and South Asia are not so receptive to free-thinking and we face it regularly in our work… It is a sad day but it can not and should not deter the humanist rationalist activist to work on. India is in danger as religious fascist and Hindu nationalist forces with active support from international and national media, are on the rise. It is a big challenge and we have to fight it. We know much tougher days are ahead. The country is in the grip of hate-mongering people ready to kill people to get their political benefit. We condemn this murder and demand immediate inquiry from the government of Maharastra.”


  1. Robert B. says

    I hadn’t heard about him until the news of his death, but my first reaction was, “Shit. We have a long way to go, and the going just got harder.”

    At least the pushback to his assassination has triggered some action, but that’s cold comfort.

  2. pradiprawat55 says

    Dr. Narendra Dabholkar’s contribution to Indian society can be aptly described by this Jerry Coyne quote

    We’re in a war not for science, but against superstition, which enables nonscientific views.


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