Pune, Nov 20 IANS | 9 months ago

As many as 22 crack Maharashtra Police teams have been working for three months to crack the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, gunned down while on a morning walk here Aug 20. They have, as yet, made no headway.


Over 1,100 local people and eyewitnesses have been questioned for leads, CCTV footage in the vicinity has been scanned, and more than 700 history-sheeters, including those known to wield guns, have been interrogated, to no avail.

Home Minister R.R. Patil, admitting that no progress had yet been made in the case, attempted to clarify that there was no let up in investigations.

"We are hopeful of nabbing Dabholkar's killers soon and the police are working in this direction," Patil told reporters Wednesday.

Soon after the murder, Pune police released sketches of a couple of suspects and questioned dozens of people, but failed to get concrete clues.

Dabholkar, a campaigner against superstition and witchcraft and a medical doctor, social worker and journalist, was shot at from close range and killed while on a morning walk near his residence close to the Omkareshwar temple in Pune, around 7.30 a.m Aug 20. The murder created a nationwide furore.

Of at least four bullets fired, two hit Dabholkar in the neck and back. He succumbed shortly afterwards at the government-run Sassoon Hospital.

Despite Chief Minister Prithviraj 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 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, babas and buas - 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.

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.

(Posted on 20-11-2013)