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'It is a social and political murder'

By Neeta Kolhatkar
Last updated on: December 24, 2013 17:55 IST
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'A message was sent to society that those who question dogmas and believe in scientific methods will be silenced.' Hamid Dabholkar tells Neeta Kolhatkar why he is disappointed that his father Narendra Dabholkar's killers have not been arrested yet.

Hamid DabholkarHamid Dabholkar was not in Pune on August 20, the day his father, anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, was murdered.

Since then, his life has turned around, fighting his father's cause that was brought to an abrupt stop by his murder.

Scouting the corridors of the Maharashtra assembly, speaking to religious groups without losing his cool, and eventually ensuring a law that many from the anti-superstition group fear has lost its claws.

Welcoming the new Anti-Black magic Act, Hamid Dabholkar, in an exclusive interview with Neeta Kolhatkar, points out how the battle has just begun.

Congratulations on the bill being passed. Since your father's murder you have been running from pillar to post to get this bill passed. The politics of it all must be new to you...

Yes, thank you, this passing of the bill is just the beginning. My father's murder came as a huge shock to all of us.

At an individual level it is inexplicable, but for our movement it was a big loss.

I am satisfied that all programmes of our movement are as per the schedule that was decided when Doctor (Hamid addresses his father as doctor) was alive.

I am yet to come out of it (the shock of his father's murder) and let it sink in.

As an organisation and family we have decided to be strong and not get demoralised by certain groups and political parties that are opposing the bill.

I am happy to say that in the last three months our organisation, the Andha Shraddha Nirmolan Samiti, has withstood all these setbacks. There have been attempts to derail the bill.

Thousands of our activists have been working hard to spread the message of this new Act and we are getting a positive response.

Are you not disappointed that it has been over 100 days and your father's killers haven't been arrested?

I was in Satara the day Doctor was murdered. It is disappointing not just for me, but for all of us.

What I feel is that not only the shooters, but the brains behind the murder need to be nabbed.

The murder was a well-planned conspiracy. It is a social and political murder.

A message was sent to society that those who question dogmas and believe in scientific methods will be silenced.

It was a conspiracy, because the killing was aimed at finishing the anti-superstition ideology.

I am sure it isn't tough to find out who those killers are. I will not comment more, but even the state home minister has said he was disappointed and that says a lot.

Shiv Sena leader Diwakar Raote accused you and your associates of being 'dalals' (brokers) of the state.

Raote's accusation and name calling has surpassed all decency in a democracy. Such behaviour and language used is condemnable.

Having said this, I strongly feel that such people uttering such statements has little impact, as people are aware of our commitment and work.

He has apologised after that, so it won't be right on my part to say anything further.

Were you prepared for the kind of politics that has been unfolding over this new law?

These public outbursts over the bill are natural considering how political this issue has been made.

Nobody would have imagined that eventually one day a bill on these lines would be passed. We had faced stiff opposition for years.

But the truth is in today's times, 18 years after the original idea for a strict law was mooted, it is surprising to see the kind of rumours and opposition to this bill. There are wrong perceptions and information being circulated.

You too were threatened after your father's murder. Fundamentalist groups continue to oppose your father's movement and this bill.

Do you think the government has encouraged such extremist groups by not taking action against them?

All religious extremist groups and ideologies are the same.

People of such extreme ideologies can't be religious, they are dangerous and they should be arrested as they are a threat to our democracy.

The government should undertake a stringent inquiry and take action against such groups.

We have seen how groups of such extreme ideology have grown and the government has been quiet.

The government needs to have a strong policy to rein in such people who target those with a scientific mind and those who ask questions.

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Neeta Kolhatkar in Mumbai