The sensational murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar is yet to be solved eight months after he was gunned down while on a morning walk here, creating a nationwide furore.
Two dozen probe teams and investigations across Maharashtra and neighbouring states are yet to yield any results.
Despite assurances by top officials, including Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Home Minister R.R. Patil, there is no progress in nabbing the culprits.
Over 1,200 locals and eyewitnesses were questioned for leads, local CCTV footages scanned, more than 700 history-sheeters, including gun-wielders have been interrogated in the past eight months.
Dabholkar, a campaigner against superstition and witchcraft and a medical doctor, social worker and a journalist, was shot at from close range and killed while on a morning walk near his residence close to the Omkareshwar temple in Pune Aug 20.
Of at least four bullets fired, two hit Dabholkar in the neck and back. He died later at the government-run Sassoon Hospital.
Despite CM Chavan announcing a reward of Rs.10 lakh for information about the killers, the police have notched no success in cracking the case.
Incidentally, the Dabholkar investigations helped police crack around two dozen other serious crimes and nab the accused, including an absconder in a seven-year old rape case, and others involved in major dacoities and robberies.
Dabholkar had rubbed many people the wrong way and had reportedly even received threats. His son Hamid said he (the late Dabholkar) refused to register a complaint about the threats, saying he needed no weapons in his cause.
In 1989, Dabholkar founded the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) (society for the elimination of blind faith) with a few like-minded people and raised his voice against superstition, irrational practices, blind faith and beliefs.
He confronted dubious tantriks and babas – people who claimed to have supernatural powers and preyed on gullible people.
Dabholkar was instrumental in pushing the state government to frame an anti-superstition law which was finally approved and passed as an ordinance a day after his murder and later passed by the state legislature in December 2013.
The new law seeks to eradicate black magic, blind faith, superstitious beliefs, rituals and sacrifices to drive out evil spirits or ensure male progeny, perpetrated by self-styled godmen and witchcraft and wizardry practitioners.