Published: 20th August 2019
The other Narendra: Six years since activist Narendra Dabholkar's assassination, here's all you need to know
Dabholkar was criticised for indulging in 'anti-Hindu' campaigns through his organisation and eventually his refusal to give up cost him his life
Today marks six years since activist and writer, Narendra Dabholkar was assassinated while on his routine morning walk. Dabholkar's name is one that is mentioned in the same breath as KN Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Gauri Lankesh — all killed for raising their voices and standing up for their beliefs. But the first to be murdered was Dabholkar and the police have yet to crack the case, even as his family and supporters continue to take his ideology forward.
We look back at the highlights of his life and his fight for rationality till his very last breath —
November 1, 1945: Dabholkar was born to Achyut and Tarabai. He obtained his MBBS depress from the Government Medical College, Miraj.
1989: Dabholkar established the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti or Committee for Eradication of Blind Faith, CEBF. The Committee campaigned against superstitious beliefs. Some of their campaigns were against the immersion of Ganesh idols in water bodies, they protested against the torture of mentally ill people due to false beliefs.
Another one of their interesting campaigns was challenging godmen to perform any one of the 12 miracles they listed. In fact, they even promised a cash prize of 11 lakh rupees, they went across the country to stop the spread of such false ideas. In another campaign, they also challenged astrologers to predict the elections held in Maharashtra for the 21 lakh rupees cash prize.
2003: Dabholkar drafted the Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Bill, it was introduced in the Legislative Assembly for the first time in the winter session of 2005. After a lot of back and forth, criticisms and debates, the bill only ended up getting passed after he passed away. It was widely criticised because it was 'anti-Hindu and anti-religion.'
Between 1990 - 2010 — Dabholkar actively participated in the movement for the equality of Dalits and was a follower of Ambedkar.
2010 — Dabholkar was advised to seek protection as people began to see his organisation as a threat to the cultural fabric in the country and called it anti-Hindu. He, however, refused to seek any kind of protection. The Maharastra government at one point also wanted him to leave the state.
2013 — While he was taking his routine morning walk, two assailants on bikes shot at him 4 times at point-blank range. He died on the spot.
The police have still not been able to find the culprits who murdered him. Investigations have revealed that it was a planned attack as the attackers knew his daily routine. In August 2018, the CBI arrested one person they believed was one of the killers. The All India Peoples Science Network (AIPSN) observes August 20 as National Scientific Temper day to commemorate Narendra Dabholkar.
Dabhoklar's children and the organisation are carrying on his work even as the atmosphere continues to remain hostile to people like Dabholar, Kalburgi, Pansare and Lankesh.