“Passing an ordinance alone is not enough; it needs to be followed up in spirit.” This is what slain anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar’s son Hamid told dna over the phone from Satara.
The 69-year-old social activist was shot dead by two motorcycle-borne assailants on August 20 when he was out for a morning walk on the Omkareshwar Temple bridge in Pune.
“Two weeks have passed since my father’s murder. Although the Maharashtra government passed an anti-black magic ordinance the day after his death, it has not followed up on its implementation across the state, despite an assurance from the chief minister. It’s really painful,” said Dr Hamid Dabholkar.
Talking about the delayed probe into the murder, Hamid said, “It speaks volumes about the law and order situation in our state. Two weeks on, the police have made no progress in the investigation,” he said.
Not just his family, but the workers of the Andhashradha Nirmulan Samiti (ANS), the rationalist group founded by Dabholkar, too are upset with the government’s attitude, he added.
“We are believers of the non-violence movement. On Thursday, our workers will stage demonstrations outside the collector’s office in each district and ask why there is a delay in the probe and the implementation of the bill.”
Hamid said that the police need to be sensitised about how to deal with cases related to superstition and black magic. He added that they have made a representation to the chief minister, demanding that policemen across the state be trained and directed to implement the ordinance. “Police officials are still struggling when it comes to registering the cases, as they don’t know what section the culprits should be booked under,” he said.
The late Dr Dabholkar fought for over 18 years to get the anti-black magic bill passed in the assembly, until it was finally passed, hastily, only after his death. Recently, the bill was vehemently opposed by the Warkari sect and other Hindu extremist organisations. Disappointed with the state of affairs, Dr Dabholkar had criticised chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for stifling progressive thought in the state.
“He fought his entire life for this ordinance. It’s too late because he is no more with us. Now it depends on what response it gets from the people and whether they will follow it, or whether the government will be callous in its implementation,” Hamid said.
He added that it is saddening to see the government not take this bill seriously. “The state police should set an example by booking those indulging in black magic. This is the only way to send a strong message to the society,” he added.