|Born||1 November 1945|
|Died||20 August 2013
Pune, Maharashtra, India
|Occupation||Social activist, founder-president of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS)|
Narendra Achyut Dabholkar (1 November 1945 – 20 August 2013) was an Indian rationalist and author from Maharashtra. He was the founder-president of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), an organization set up to eradicate superstition in 1989. Triggered by his murder on 20 August 2013, the pending Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance was promulgated in the state of Maharashtra, four days later. He was awarded the Padma Shri for social work posthumously in 2014.
Dabholkar was born on 1 November 1945 to Achyut and Tarabai, being the youngest of ten siblings, the eldest was the late educationalist, Gandhian and socialist Devdatta Dabholkar. He did his schooling at New English School Satara and Willingdon College, Sangli. He was a qualified medical doctor, having obtained an MBBS degree from the Government Medical College, Miraj.
He was the captain of the Shivaji University Kabaddi team. He had represented India against Bangladesh in a Kabaddi tournament. He won the Maharashtra government's Shiv Chhatrapati Yuva Award for Kabaddi.
He was married to Shaila and has two children, Hamid and Mukta Dabholkar. His son was named after the social reformer Hamid Dalwai. He didn't believe in Vastu Shastra and built his house without any regards to the principles of Vastu Shastra. He also criticised extravagant marriage ceremonies and arranged for his own children to be married in simple ceremonies. The almanac was not consulted to select an auspicious time as it is traditionally done. Dabholkar was also an atheist.
After working as a doctor for 12 years, Dabholkar became a social worker in the 1980s. He became involved with movements for social justice, such as Baba Adhav's One village - One well agitation.
Gradually, Dabholkar started focusing on eradication of superstition, and joined the Akhil Bharatiya Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (ABANS). In 1989, he founded the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS, "Committee for Eradication of Superstition in Maharashtra" or "Maharashtra Committee for Eradication of Blind Faith"), and campaigned against superstitions, confronting dubious tantriks and claimed holy men who promised 'miracle cures' for ailments. He criticised the country's "godmen", self-styled Hindu ascetics who claim to perform miracles and have many followers. He was the founding member of Parivartan, a social action centre located in Satara district, that seeks to "empower marginalised members of the community to lead lives of security, dignity, and prosperity". He was closely associated with the Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku. Dabholkar was the editor of a renowned Marathi weekly Sadhana (weekly), which was founded by Sane Guruji. He also served earlier as a vice president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations.
Between 1990–2010, Dabholkar was active in a movements for the equality of Dalits (untouchables) and against India's caste system and caste-related violence. He advocated renaming the Marathwada University after Babasaheb Ambedkar, who is often called the author of India's constitution and fought for the equality of Dalits. Dabholkar wrote books on superstitions and their eradication, and had addressed over 3,000 public meetings. He had taken on Asaram Bapu in March 2013 over an incident during Holi in Nagpur, when Bapu and his followers used drinking water from tankers brought from the Nagpur Municipal Corporation to celebrate the festival. They were accused of wasting it while rest of Maharashtra faced drought.
Anti-superstition and black magic bill
In 2010, Dabholkar made several failed attempts to get an anti-superstition law enacted in the state of Maharashtra. Under his supervision, MANS drafted the Anti-Jaadu Tona Bill (Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance). It was opposed by some political parties and the Warkari sect. Political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena opposed it claiming it would adversely affect Hindu culture, customs and traditions. Critics accused him of being anti-religion but in an interview with the Agence France-Presse news agency he said, "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, this is about fraudulent and exploitative practices."
A couple of weeks before his death on 6 August 2013, Dabholkar had complained in a press conference that the bill had not been discussed despite being tabled in seven sessions of the state assembly. He had criticized the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, stating that the minister had disappointed the progressive people in the state. A day after Dabholkar's murder, the Maharashtra Cabinet cleared the Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance, however the parliament would still need to support the bill for it to become law.
Dabholkar had faced several threats and assaults since 1983 but had rejected police protection.
|“||If I have to take police protection in my own country from my own people, then there is something wrong with me, I'm fighting within the framework of the Indian constitution and it is not against anyone, but for everyone.||”|
— Dabholkar on rejecting police protection
Murdered on 20 August 2013, while out on a morning walk, Dabholkar was shot down by two unidentified gunmen near Omkareshwar temple, Pune at 7:20 AM IST. The assailants fired four rounds at him from a point blank range and fled on a motorcycle parked nearby. Two bullets hit Dabholkar in his head and chest and he died on the spot.
Dabholkar had originally donated his body to a medical college. But, the autopsy made necessary by his murder left the slain leader's body unfit for academic purposes. He was cremated in Satara without any religious rites. His pyre was lit by his daughter, Mukta, in contradiction to the tradition where the son lights the pyre. His ashes were collected without any religious ceremony and scattered over his organic farm.
Dabholkar's assassination was condemned by many political leaders and social activists. The Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan announced a reward of 10 lakh (US$17,000) to any person with information of the assailants. Furthermore, political parties called for a bandh (strike) in Pune on 21 August, and various institutions across Pune remained closed to protest Dabholkar's assassination.
On 20 August 2013, the police stated that it is under suspicion that it was a planned murder because the assailants were aware Dabholkar stays in Pune only on Mondays and Tuesdays. Chavan stated on 26 August 2013 that the police have some clues about his murder. On 2 September, the police stated that 7 surveillance cameras have captured footage of the two assassins, and the footage had been sent to a London-based forensic lab for analysis.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar, urging the case to be investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) instead of the state police, over lack of faith over the latter. The Bombay High Court sought responses from the NIA on 24 September. On 15 October, NIA said the case was well within the Indian Penal Code. NIA also added that it was only the assumptions of the petitioner that right-wing activists were involved and it was a scheduled plan.
On 17 January 2014, during his visit to Pune, Home Minister R. R. Patil gave Pune police a week to make some progress or hand over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). On 20 January, Pune police arrested two suspects based ballistic reports. The suspects had been previously accused of firearms dealing. Later on 4 March 2014, the Bombay High Court heard a modified PIL from Tirodkar, which sought to involve the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the investigation. The court directed the Pune police to submit copies of case diaries. On 9 May 2014, the Bombay High Court transferred the case to the CBI.
- Shailendra Paranjpe (20 August 2013). "Narendra Dabholkar: A rationalist to the core". DNA India. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- "The anti-black magic and superstition ordinance has been promulgated in Maharashtra". DNA India. 24 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Iyengar, Mashelkar get Padma Vibhushan. Dabholkar, Ghate get Padma Shri.". DNA India. 26 January 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
- Chinchkar Dilip Kumar (19 December 2009). "तर्कशुद्ध विचारांचा मूर्तिमंत आविष्कार: परिवर्तन चळवळीतील विचारवंत शिक्षक". Sakal (in Marathi) (Mumbai).
- "Founder:Dr. Narendra Dabholkar". Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- Radheshyam Jadhav (21 August 2013). "Doctor who fought to stamp out superstition". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Dabholkar practised what he preached". Business Standard. 24 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Narendra Dabholkar, fighter against superstition, was killed on August 20th, aged 67". The Economist. 14 September 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- "Narendra Dabholkar, the man who waged a war against superstition in all forms". DNA India (Pune). 20 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- Johannes Quack (2011). Disenchanting India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India. Oxford University Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-19-981260-8. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
- Satyajit Joshi (21 August 2013). "Dabholkar was a true crusader of rationalism". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- Priyanka Kakodkar (21 August 2013). "He was not against God but fought exploitation". The Hindu. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Anti-superstition campaigner killed in Pune". Business Standard. 20 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Narendra Dabholkar: India's Maharashtra state bans black magic after killing". BBC India. 21 August 2013.
- "About: Parivartan". Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- Deshmukh, Chaitraly (20 August 2013). "Anti-superstition leader Narendra Dabholkar shot dead; Prithviraj Chavan announces Rs10 lakh reward for info on killers". DNA India (Mumbai). Retrieved 20 August 2013.
- Maseeh Rahman (20 August 2013). "Indian anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar shot dead". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Social group blames Asaram Bapu for 'wasting' water". Yahoo! News (Nagpur). 13 March 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
- Mehta, Tejas (18 March 2013). "As Maharashtra battles drought, Asaram Bapu wastes water, abuses media". NDTV (Mumbai). Retrieved 22 August 2013.
- "Full text of the draft Anti-Superstition Law proposed by Narendra Dabholkar". DNA India (Pune). 20 August 2013.
- "Warkaris use saffron power to fight bill on witchcraft". Pune Mirror. 9 November 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
- "'CM failed to discuss Anti-Jaadu Tona Bill'". DNA India (Pune). 6 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Maharashtra Cabinet clears anti-black magic and superstition ordinance". IBNLive. 21 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "A blow by blow account of the last moments of Narendra Dabholkar's life". DNA India. 20 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Sorry doctor, we didn’t deserve you". The Hindu. 28 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- Salil Urunkar (21 August 2013). "Dabholkar's wish to donate body remains unfulfilled". Mid Day (Pune). Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Family decides not to immerse Narendra Dabholkar's ashes". The Times of India. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "How Narendra Dabholkar practised what he preached". Hindustan Times. 25 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Catch the killers fast: Dabholkar's kin". DNA India. 26 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Anti-superstition activist Dabholkar shot dead in Pune; CM, Pawar condemn killing". The Times of India (Pune). 20 August 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- "Bandh in Pune over rationalist Narendra Dabholkar's murder". Zee News. 21 August 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- Anurag Bende (22 August 2013). "Bandh a partial success". DNA India (Pune). Retrieved 22 August 2013.
- "Rationalist Dabholkar shot dead". The Hindu. 20 August 2013. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- "Police have some clues in Narendra Dabholkar murder case: Prithviraj Chavan". The Times of India (Pune). 26 August 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- "Narendra Dabholkar murder case: Police find suspects in 7 CCTV cameras". Daily Bhaskar. 2 September 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "High Court seeks NIA reply in Dabholkar murder case". The Hindu. 24 September 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- Rosy Sequeira (15 October 2013). "Cannot probe Dabholkar case, NIA tells high court". The Times of India. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "NIA tells HC it cannot investigate Dabholkar's murder". Rediff. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- "Crack Dabholkar case in one week else give probe to CBI: R R Patil". The Times of India (Mumbai). 19 January 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- "Arms dealer, aide held in Dabholkar murder case". The Times of India. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- "Five months on, cops make first arrests in Dabholkar murder case". The Indian Express. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- "HC to hear PIL for CBI probe into Dabholkar killing". The Times of India. 3 March 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
- "Police submit 'case diaries' in Dabholkar killing before HC". Zee News. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
- News Service, Express (10 May 2014). "Bombay High Court transfers Dabholkar murder probe to CBI". Indian Express. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
- Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (Official website), founded by Narendra Dabholkar