Narendra Dabholkar, who spent his life crusading against superstition and religious charlatans, was shot dead in Pune in August last year. To investigate the 67-year-old doctor’s death, then Police Commissioner Gulabrao Pol, allegedly hired babas and tantriks and used some of them to “communicate with spirits” in a desperate attempt to get some information that could help crack the case.
Mr. Dabholkar’s son, Hamid, has asked Maharashtra’s Home Minister RR Patil to order an inquiry into the allegations made by Pune cops who did not wish to be named. A cell was reportedly formed and assigned to deal with the spirit world – a charge the former police commissioner strongly denies.
“It is a big nonsense and a false and concocted story,” said Mr. Pol.
In August last year, the doctor-turned-activist was killed on a morning walk, allegedly by two unidentified men who shot him four times. A witness reported seeing the assailants flee on a motorcycle. The police had released a sketch of one suspect and said the two were believed to be in their 20s. But they remain untraced.
Mr. Dabholkar had been receiving death threats for years since he began travelling by public buses to hundreds of villages around Maharashtra state to lecture against superstitions, religious extremism, black magic and animal or human sacrifice.
After his murder, hundreds of students and activists marched through the streets of Pune to protest the killing. Some carried banners in Marathi reading “You can kill a person with a bullet, but you can’t kill his thoughts” and “We are all Dabholkar.” Responding to the public outcry, Maharashtra’s government passed legislation that Mr. Dabholkar had worked on to ban religious exploitation and fraudulent medical workers.
Mr. Dabholkar had refused to join any political party.
Mr. Dabholkar’s organization, the Maharashtra Blind Faith Eradication Committee, says it will continue its work in lecturing about the benefits of scientific attitudes and social cooperation and lifting women up from religious subjugation.