|Born||1 November 1945|
|Died||20 August 2013 (aged 67)|
Pune, Maharashtra, India
|Cause of death||Gunshot wound|
|Occupation||Social activist, founder-president of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS)|
|Children||Mukta Dabholkar née Patwardhan, Hamid Dabholkar|
Narendra Achyut Dabholkar (1 November 1945 – 20 August 2013) was an Indian physician, social activist, rationalist and author from Maharashtra, India. In 1989 he founded and became president of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS, Committee for Eradication of Superstition in Maharashtra). 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. In 2014, he was posthumously awarded the Padma Shri for social work.
Dabholkar was born on 1 November 1945 to Achyut and Tarabai, being the youngest of ten children. His eldest sibling was the educationalist, and socialist Devdatta Dabholkar. Narendra 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 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. He was an atheist.
|This article is of a series on|
|Criticism of religion|
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 Ek Gaon Ek Panotha (One village – One well) initiative.
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 (M.A.N.S, transl. "Committee for Eradication of Superstition in Maharashtra" ), 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. He was the editor of a renowned Marathi weekly Sadhana, 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 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 criticised 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. After 29 amendments, it was finally enacted as an ordinance on 18 December 2013.
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 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 ₹1 million (US$13,000) 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 had 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, due to a lack of faith with 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, adding 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 on 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 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.
In August 2015, the CBI and Maharashtra government announced a ₹1 million (US$13,000) reward for any person providing information regarding Narendra Dabholkar's assailants.
On 18 August 2018, the CBI arrested Sachin Prakasrao Andure, suspected of being one of the gunmen. Dabholkar's son Hamid Dabholkar believed this to be an important development in the case which will help identify the planner behind the assassination.
By his assassination Narendra Dabholkar achieved the public protections against chicanery that he had been denied while he lived. The Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance was enacted by the government of Maharashtra in 2013. Since its passage, the law has been used to indict the perpetrators of a series of egregious lurid frauds, often combined with sexual assault. Unfortunately, the perpetrators have often eluded their victims and the police and escaped to other provinces in which no similar protection against charlatans yet exists.
The Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance applies only in the comparatively well-off and well-educated province of Maharashtra. In the rest of India the people lack comparable protection from fraudulent pretend-healers and other miracle fakers. Dalbholkar's daughter, Mukta, and other activists have picked up and carry forward his campaign for a national-wide anti-superstition law.
Narendra Dabholkar has authored many books in Marathi which have been translated to Hindi and English.
- Ladhe Andhashraddheche
- Prashna Tumcha Uttar Dabholkaranche
- Timiratuni Tejakade
- The Case for Reason: Volume One: Understanding the Anti-superstition Movement
- The Case for Reason: Volume Two: A Scientific Enquiry into Belief
- Please Think
In popular culture
The assassination is featured along with assassinations of other rationalists such as Govind Pansare, M. M. Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh in the documentary mini-series Vivek-Reason by Anand Patwardhan.
Short film The Bookshelf  was produced in the memory of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M. M. Kalburgi by three Indian publishing houses Tulika Books, Perumal Murugan's publisher Kalachuvadu and Deshabhimani Book House.
- Superstition in India
- Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance
- Govind Pansare
- M. M. Kalburgi
- Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS; or Committee for Eradication of Blind Faith, CEBF), founded by Narendra Dabholkar
- Sebastian Martin
- Shailendra Paranjpe (20 August 2013). "Narendra Dabholkar: A rationalist to the core". DNA India. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- "Indian rationalism, Charvaka to Narendra Dabholkar". 21 August 2018.
- "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. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013.
- "Founder:Dr. Narendra Dabholkar". Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
- Radheshyam Jadhav (21 August 2013). "Doctor who fought to stamp out superstition". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Dabholkar murder: Kin seek speedy probe". 5 October 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
- "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. Archived from the original on 25 September 2013. 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 Rs 10 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.
- "Register an account | Hashing24".
- "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. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. 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. Archived from the original on 23 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "Maharashtra Legislative Council Passes Black Magic Bill". The New Indian Express.
- "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. Archived from the original on 26 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "How Narendra Dabholkar practised what he preached". Hindustan Times. 25 August 2013. Archived from the original on 28 September 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. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. 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. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- "Arms dealer, aide held in Dabholkar murder case". The Times of India. 21 January 2014. Archived from the original on 31 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.
- "Two years on, Narendra Dabholkar killers still remain elusive". Mid Day. 19 August 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
- "Narendra Dabholkar murder: CBI arrests gunman involved in crime; hope real perpetrators nabbed soon, says activists son Hamid - Firstpost". www.firstpost.com. 19 August 2018. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
- catid=47:campaign-for-law&Itemid=123 Crimes Registered after the Ordinance Written by Krishna Chandgude Translated by Suman Oak
- "National anti-black magic bill required: Dabholkar's daughter". The Hindu. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "Dabholkar aides meet Rahul, Pawar for central anti-superstition law". First Post (India). 18 September 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "Lectures, protests planned on Aug 20 to mark Scientific Temper Day". 6 August 2018.
- "National Scientific Temper Day (August 20th) | aspin".
- "विवेक धारावाहिक Vivek Reason – YouTube". www.youtube.com.
- Pradeep, K. (20 March 2017). "The stories on a bookshelf". The Hindu.
- Scroll Staff. "Watch: is this the future of books if freedom of expression is curbed?". Scroll.in.
- "The Bookshelf" – via www.youtube.com.
- Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (antisuperstition.org), founded by Narendra Dabholkar