Mumbai: Social activists on Tuesday expressed their shock and anger at the murder of anti-superstition activist and editor of 'Sadhna' weekly Dr Narendra Dabholkar. Over a hundred activist on Tuesday gathered at Shivaji Mandir in Dadar to protest the brutal killing of Dabholkar. They demanded that the government must act and find out Dabholkar's killers at the earliest.
"I expect Chief Minster Prithviraj Chavan will take cognizance, I appeal to him that he should pass the bill for which Dabholkar was striving for 18 years," said a friend of Dabholkar, Kumar Saptarishi.
They said that this is not for the first time social activists have been targeted. Many social and RTI activist have been killed or assaulted in the state in the last few years.
Dabholkar is the 9th to have lost his life since 2010. Satish Shetty, who exposed land scams in Pune, was killed in January, 2010. RTI activist Ramdas Ghadegaokar was killed in Nanded in August, 2010 after he exposed irregularities in the Public Distribution System. At least 4 other activists have also been assaulted in the last three years.
"Most of the activists have a long list of complaints before some thing like this happens to them. Promises made to the court about setting up an activists protection mechanism have also not been kept," said activist Sumaira Abdulali.
They demanded strict action from Home Minster RR Patil and also raised slogan against him. They said that it is not only the failure of the government but the society as a whole that someone like Dabholkar had to face death this way.
Meanwhile, Patil said that it would be incorrect to name anyone without an inquiry. "It would be incorrect to name any group or individual without first probing the incident. We will launch an inquiry into the incident," he said.
The murder has also triggered sharp political reactions in the state with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray criticised the government. "A swift investigation should be ordered and the culprits should be caught," he said.
Dabholkar was shot dead on Tuesday while he was on a morning walk near the Omkareshwar temple in Pune.
Dabholkar was at the forefront of a campaign to persuade the Maharashtra government to pass an anti-superstition and black magic bill. He spearheaded the "Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti" (anti-superstition movement) to change social mindset and inculcate scientific temper.
Pune Police Commissioner Gulabrao Pol, who confirmed Dabholkar's death, said police were investigating the motive but no suspects have been identified so far.
Initial reports suggest that four rounds were fired and he succumbed to bullet injuries in the Sassoon Hospital. The post-mortem report is awaited. As per reports, two assailants came in bike and attacked Dabholkar. Police have made two sketches based on the accounts of the eyewitnesses. They have figured out the weapon that was used by the assailants.