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Narendra Dabholkar murder case remains unsolved even after 2 years

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Pune: It is the second death anniversary of rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, who was shot dead in the city, yet the culprit still continues to outrun the law. Several hundred activists, including Dabholkar’s wife and his two children, held a march in protest on Thursday morning.

Photo credit: www.srai.org
Photo credit: www.srai.org

Dabholkar, a medical turned campaigner against superstitions and black magic through his Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (ANS), was shot by unknown motorcycle-borne assailants near the VRS bridge in the city while on a morning walk on August 20, 2013.

“It has been two years and investigators are yet to achieve a breakthrough. We have a single point demand–nab his killers immediately,” said his daughter Mukta Dabholkar, who along with her brother Hamid are carrying forward their father’s legacy.

The protestors gathered at the exact spot where he was shot dead and at the exact time, 7.55 a.m., when he was shot dead; marching around two kilometres carrying placards, banners and shouting slogans. The march of rational activists who wore black bands, was led by Dabholkar’s children and his wife Shaila, before they staged a daylong protest.

Sandip Shetty, brother of slain RTI activist Satish Shetty, slain Communist leader Govind Pansare’s daughter Smita, and other prominent citizens and activists from across the state, participated in the protest march. The protest march marks the end of a year-long campaign, including street plays performed to highlight Dabholkar’s ideology, ‘aartis’ and marches all over Maharashtra.

“It is a shame that the government has failed to nab the assailants even two years after the murder,” said Hamid.

He had earlier accused the state government of “trying to hide something” since all evidences have been handed over, but so far there has been no breakthrough.

The case was handed to the CBI in May 2014, after the Maharashtra police was unable to solve even in the time span of one year. The CBI released sketches of two suspects in the killing in May 2015, but there has been no progress after that. The CBI had also pleaded shortage of staff and requested additional officers, but it is yet to be cleared by the state government.

The Maharashtra police has questioned nearly 1,000 people in the past two years, including ‘tantriks’, godmen and black magicians against whom Dabholkar campaigned vigorously, but without much success.

The activist’s killing had prompted the state government to enact the revolutionary ‘Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices, and Black Magic Act, 2013’, which is commonly known as the anti-superstition and black magic law.

With inputs from IANS

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No connection between Pansare, Dabhodhar, Kalburgi murders, says govt

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New Delhi: While political pundits in India attributed the poor performance of the BJP in the Bihar polls to the ‘growing intolerance’ and the killing of rationalists Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi, the government in the Centre on Wednesday said, the gruesome incidents were not connected.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told Rajya Sabha that as per available information, there is no report to suggest any linkage/connection between the murders of Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi.

Speaking during the Question Hour, he further clarified that there was no proposal to outlaw the right-wing group Santhan Sanstha.

Santhan Sanstha came into the fore for all the wrong reasons when one of its activists was arrested for his alleged involvement with the murder of Pansare.

However, Sanathan Sanstha admitted that the accused was its member, but it rubbished any party’s role in the killing.

Rijiju further said that law enforcing agencies are constantly monitoring the activities of the organisation which are said to spread tension. The government is committed to ensuring maintenance of peace and communal harmony in the country, he added.

A left-wing politician and author, Pansare, was shot on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.  While Dabholkar was murdered on August 2013, Kalburgi was shot on August this year.

Several Sahitya Academy award winner denounced their prize for the government’s inaction to take speedy action against the culprit.

The government’s alleged failure to contain the situation drew flak from several quarters of the civil society. Besides, the ‘award wapsi‘ programme, there were other rallies and marches to protest the deaths.

The Lalu-Nitish coalition in Bihar made good use of the situation to stop the BJP juggernaut and leapfrogged the NDA to assume power in Bihar.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Social boycott to be abolished in Maharashtra

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Mumbai: Maharashtra would soon be India’s first state to come up with a law condemning the act of social boycott by caste panchayats on families or individuals.

Any action pertaining to social boycott has been ruled as a crime according to the draft of the act –‘Maharashtra Prohibition of Social Boycott Act, 2015’, which was published on the state government website on Wednesday.

The heinous practices of the caste panchayats had been protested against by rationalist Narendra Dabholkar before he was murdered in Pune. Several activists and academics have also raised their voices for a law against the practice going on for years.

Maharashtra, in recent times saw an increased number of social boycott incidents and violence pushed by the caste panchayats when their rules weren’t followed.

This is not Maharashtra’s first time in enacting such laws as it was also the first state in the country to pass the anti-superstition law.

The accused, according to the act, would complete trial within six months of the charge sheet being filed. If proven guilty, the accused will face seven years of jail time or Rs 5 lakh fine, or both.

The new act defines ‘Caste Panchayat’ as a registered or unregistered body formed by a group of any community, which functions inside that community to control different practices carried out there. It controls personal and societal behaviours of the community members and works out disputes collectively and ‘resolves’ them by issuing oral or written dictums

Either a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class, whichever the case needed, would have the authority to deem the offence under this act as bailable or triable.

Provision has also been made for the appointment of a Social Boycott Prohibition Officer who would detect crimes in violation of this act. The officer would also provide support to the police officers and the magistrate in their duties.

“It is a positive step from the government and we will be sending our suggestions to the draft. One of the major suggestions would be to make these crimes non-bailable. Hopefully we will succeed in it,” prominent anti-caste panchayat activist in Maharashtra, Krushna Chandgude, told The Hindu.

Advocate Asim Sarode also commended this move by the government, saying that it would encourage more activists to work in this field. Sarode had submitted his own draft to formulate an act.

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Four more Punjabi littérateurs to return Akademi awards

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Chandigarh: Noted Punjab-based poet Surjit Patar was among the four littérateurs who announced on Monday that they will return their Sahitya Akademi awards to protest against the growing atmosphere of intolerance in the country.

Besides Patar, the other three poets and writers who announced that they would return their awards were Jaswinder Singh, Baldev Singh Sadaknama and Darshan Bhuttar.

In a joint statement, Jaswinder Singh, Sadaknama and Bhuttar said that they were giving up their awards “to protest against the atmosphere of terror which was being created” by certain elements.

Patar told media that he was giving up the award, “which is close to my heart with a heavy heart” due to recent happenings in the country.

On Sunday, well-known Punjabi writers who announced giving up their literary awards included Ajmer Singh Aulakh, Atamjit Singh, Gurbachan Bhullar and Canada-based writer Waryam Sandhu.

All the Punjabi writers have said that they were raising their voice against rising “intolerance” and “suppressing freedom of expression”.

The litterateurs said that they were giving up their awards to protest against the killings of writers MM Kalburgi in Karnataka (in August) and Narendra Dabholkar (in 2013), stressing that they were shocked at the level of intolerance on freedom of speech and expression. They pointed out that free speech and writing was being suppressed.

They also said that the recent lynching of a Muslim man on suspicion of eating beef showed that a communal atmosphere was being built up.

(IANS)