Who killed Narendra Dabholkar?

By Sandesh Prabhudesai
23 August 2013 20:44 IST

Why, among all, Dr Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead? What threat did he pose? To whom? Why was he hated so much by some organisations like Santan, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti etc? What did he propagate? Was he so offensive? Was he provoking people to do something criminal? Was he a criminal?

Well, in that case a city like Pune would have not been spoteneously closed down in the protest of his murder. His home town Nasik would have not cried aloud for losing a great and humble Gandhian democrat. The whole peagentry from films and theatre as well as writers and intellectuals would have not marched in protest in Mumbai - the capital of Maharashtra.

And the Governmen of Maharashtra would have not promulgated an ordinance to eact the bill against superstition and black magic that was lingering for the last 18 years, as a tribute to fulfill Dr Dabholkar’s dream.

Dattaprasad Dabholkar, his brother and equally a scholarly intellectual, was in Goa next day after Dr Dabholkar was murdered on 20th August. He said: “I never lifted his phone as it was either his activist of Andhashradha Nirmulan Samiti (Committee for eradication of Superstition) or a threatening call. We requested him to take police security. But he refused. He did not mind sacrificing his life if some people really wanted to kill him.”

And they killed him. He was walking alone on the Omkareshwar bridge at 7 ‘o clock in the morning. Just like Mahatma Gandhi. Fearless. And ‘they’ had to use guns to kill him. So much they were frightened of him and his thoughts.

What was his prime thought? To uphold the Constitution of India and one of the ten fundamental duties enshrined in it:  “to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.”

In fact it is the Duty of all of us – the citizens of India. Sadly, we know our fundamental rights quite well, but not our fundamenal duties. Dr Dabholkar not only believed in it, he was VOCAL about it. He was a believer. He believed in Constitution of India. And never opposed those who believed in God or Relgion. He was not against Faith, but was firmly opposed to Blind Faith and unscientific belief.

Can this be a threat to India and its citizens? Such a threat that the fanatics are left with no other option but to kill him? In spite of knowing very well that his thoughts can’t be killed? And the whole country witnessed it. Newton’s third law of motion worked. There was a strong and loud reaction. From one and all. Even to the extent of compelling the heistant politicians to promulgate the ordinance to enact the legsiatlion against superstition and black magic.

The opponents of the bill misguided the people in all possible manners, saying the bill prohibits chanting prayers and telling people about the miracles of the saints and Gods. But, in reality, the bill never said it. It did not even consider blind faith as a crime. It never said anything about any particular religion. But it firmly considered harming any human being physically or exploiting human beings in the name of superstition, blind faith or black magic. Because it’s criminal. It’s unscientific. It’s against “scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform”, which the Constitution of India speaks about.

Who got threatened with this bill? Obviously, the criminals who were involved in such activities. Who got threatned with his thought of scientific temper? Obviously those who strongly propagated unscientific beliefs. Who got threatned with his propaganda against superstitions? Obviously those who believed in superstitions and propagated it.

In fact the same people and organisations who opposed Paresh Rawal starring film ‘Oh My God’ that strongly propagated the same scientific thought. The film exposes the business of superstition going on in the country and the thugs involved in it, posing themselves as Sadhus and Godmen. The film shows that the Almighty God is strongly against the supersititons as well as the Business of Superstition.

Dr Dabholkar was just not an anti-superstition activist. He was a rationalsit, humanist, Gandhian to othe core and a prolific writer. Never believed in any kind of violence. Taking ahead the legacy of Sane Guruji, he was editing Sadhana, the magazine Guruju had founded, for the last 16 years. It had become a guiding force for all the thinkers of Maharashtra. In real terms, Dr Dabholkar was a torch bearer of the progressive Maharashtra, the foundation of which was laid down by Mahatma Fule, Savitribail Fule, Shahu Maharaj and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Is it still a threat to the same elements, who spread venom against all these historic personalities?

It is still not known who actually killed Dr Dabholkar. But we have history-sheeters from the organisations, who were against Dr Dabholkar and his ANS. They had planned to plant bombs at Narakassur competition in Goa. They belonged to Sanatan Sanstha. Today, Sanatan Sanstha has denied threir hand in it. They have also denied their hand in attempted bomb blasts in Goa, on the eve of Diwali, in Margao and Sancoale. It is thus a challenge to the police to bring to the fore the real culprists, and more importantly, the fanatic thought behind such terror. Because – they are terrorists, no matter who they are.

But is it also the silence of us – the majority – that provided strength to these fanatics to commit such a heinous crime? Are we also responsible, indirectly, for Dr Dabholkar’s murder? Is it right on our part to keep quite when fanatics attack scientific thoughts, which we actually believe in? We come out in distress and anguish when Dr Dabholkars are killed. But will we be vocal and come out, from time to time, so that no more Dabholkars are killed? 

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Sandesh Prabhudesai

Sandesh Prabhudesai is a journalist, presently the Editor of goanews.com, Goa's oldest exclusive news website since 1996. He has earlier worked as the Editor-in-Chief of Prudent & Goa365, Goa's TV channels and Editor of Sunaparant, besides working as a reporter for Goan and national dailies & weeklies in English and Marathi since 1987. He also reports for the BBC. He is also actively involved in literary and cultural activities. After retirement from day-to-day journalism in 2020, he is into Re-Search Journalism (पुनर्सोद पत्रकारिता), focusing on analytical articles, Video programs & Books.

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