Mumbai: A day after the daylight murder of prominent rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar in Pune, the Maharashtra Cabinet has cleared the anti-black magic and superstition ordinance. The Dabholkars had been campaigning for this legislation for over a decade.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was even heckled by protesters on Tuesday over the delay in the Bill. Meanwhile, a massive manhunt has been launched to trace and arrest the two alleged killers of Dr Narendra Dabholkar.
Police officials say the two assailants came on a motorcycle and shot dead Dhabolkar who was on a morning walk near the Omkareshwar temple in Pune. The police have released a sketch of one of the suspects with the Mumbai Police providing technical assistance in cracking the case that has sent shockwaves across Maharashtra.
Dabholkar was at the forefront of a campaign to persuade the Maharashtra government to pass an anti-superstition and black magic bill. He founded the "Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti" (anti-superstition movement) to change social mindset and inculcate scientific temper in 1989 after starting work against widespread superstition in 1983.
He had written many books on superstition eradication and confronted tantriks who promised miracles and was the editor of Marathi weekly 'Sadhana'.
Rationalists and politicians have come out strongly against Dr Dabholkar's murder, once again, bringing out how activists feel unsafe in the country. Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Indian Rationalist Association President Sanal Edamaruku said, "We rationalists struggle like this every day, but we should not be put down by such things. Instead we should see this as an inspiration to push harder for our beliefs."
NCP leader Jitendra Awhad said the murder of Dr Dabholkar was a let down. "It's a sad day for Mumbai, let down by a few individuals who should have fought ideology with ideology. Probably, the Nathuram Godse (Mahatma Gandhi's assassin) mentality, which has lingered, is responsible for this killing."