On November 01, it was the birth anniversary of Narendra Dabholkar. Yes, that Dabholkar who was killed by someone on 20th August, 2013. This was his second birth anniversary after his death. So far, justice has not been delivered to the departed soul. Now, government has changed. However, there is no point to expect any result or concrete action from this BJP led government in the state, as earlier investigation is pointing that murder has been carried out by some saffron groups.
It is indeed an unfortunate thing that the man who forfeited his life for a noble cause –eliminating superstitions — has not been given justice even after one and half years after his death. Pathetic police has not only failed to investigate the case but is so far clueless on this issue. Ironically, a few months ago, some publications ran an investigation claiming that the Pune police had resorted to Planchet and tantriks to trace the killers of the very man who had opposed such forces all his life. Police has denied the allegation and has even threatened a defamation case. It is high time that each and every one in society raise their voices against such practices. Dabholkar led an extraordinary life of principle and courage. The manner of his death is a shame for our society. The fact that the circumstances surrounding his death have not been fully investigated is unacceptable. This murder mystery needs to be solved. There is another aspect of Dabholkar’s take that needs to be commented upon. In his enthusiasm for rationality and contempt for superstition, he might have trampled on traditional Hindu beliefs, making the religion look foolish and primitive. Such ideas should be discussed with clarity in a charitable language that respects culture, without being overtly dismissive. At first glance, Dabholkar’s messages and dialogues appeared to be aligned with the secular-left-intellectual leanings of the urban elite. That is unfortunate and might have led to his undoing. Hindu right-wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha’s name has cropped up in connection with the elimination of Dabholkar, but police has failed to nab the culprit. More than 50 Sanatan Sanstha activists were interrogated by the police but that was of no use.
Anyway, we can only remember such great people on their death anniversary. One of the causes for the backwardness of our society is blind faith. The god men have made this a lucrative business encouraging people to be not god loving but god fearing. They do not believe in hard work but are dependent on Karma. This fear has helped this business a lot. The other day, I saw a movie called “Singham Returns.” In that, one so called godman says, I create fear in people’s mind and also act as the solution provider and that becomes my business and the people, my customers. These so called babas not only have exploited women but they have also developed a nexus with the people in power. Dabholkar’s murder investigation raises one big question. Are these entire godmen well connected with the powerful and elite class? These elite and powerful’s fear of irrational beliefs and black magic send them to these godmen. Dabholkar and people like him mean well, but in the end they become tools in the hands of well-funded missionaries. Rationalists do not achieve their goals but help other religions to spread their tentacles.
The tribute will also be a condemnation of the government’s utter failure to find his killers. Dr. Dabholkar’s murder in broad daylight was initially probed by the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in Maharashtra and then transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). However, there is widespread disillusionment about both the Centre and the State’s inability to push the probe. It is very distressing. People are hurt and anguished. Are they trying to hide something and shielding someone?
In the late 1990s, Dr. Dabholkar had taken on Ratnagiri’s Narendra Maharaj at his own ashram. The godman, who maintained miracle was the cure for all ailments, arrived with 20,000 followers for a tense face-off with Dr. Dabholkar and his group of 15. Narendra Maharaj finally conceded defeat after a debate monitored by an anxious District Collector. In 2000, Dr. Dabholkar led a massive campaign demanding the entry of women into the Shani Shingnapur temple trust in Ahmednagar. The issue finally ended up in court. Hindu right-wing groups were his fiercest critics, mainly the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha. Both organisations have vehemently denied any hand in his murder. However, the Sanatan Sanstha proclaimed in an editorial just a day after the murder that it was “God’s wish.” One member of the organisation was briefly questioned by the police before being let off for lack of evidence.
Dr. Dabholkar’s greatest victory — a law against superstition and black magic — came posthumously, after a dogged 18-year struggle. One day after he was killed, the Maharashtra government cleared an ordinance, and in December 2013, a law against superstitious practices was framed. Dr. Dabholkar was well aware of the risks he faced by questioning obscurantism in a country seeped in superstition. I hope one day justice would be delivered to such a great soul.