ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A 'Tolerant' State

In the Narendra Dabholkar murder case the main culprit is the state's tardy response.

Nearly three years after India’s most prominent rationalist and anti-superstition crusader, Narendra Dabholkar, was gunned down, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested a member of the Sanatan Sanstha branch of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS). Although the Sanstha claimed its member had been framed, this is the first arrest in the case after the CBI took over the investigation in May 2014, following the Bombay High Court’s instructions. Frustrated by the meandering investigation, the Dabholkar family had filed a petition before the court alleging that pro-Hindutva activists were involved in the murder. The state’s reluctance to acknowledge that pro-Hindutva groups indulge in violent acts is well known. It is reflected in its ambivalence in pursuing cases against pro-Hindutva groups in the Malegaon bomb blasts of 2006 and 2008 as well as the Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid (Hyderabad) and the Ajmer Sharif dargah blasts. Had the complaints made by the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) led by Dabholkar about the hate-filled propaganda and activities of pro-Hindutva groups been taken seriously, his murder may well have been prevented.

Almost all those who worked with Dabholkar were clear that his murder was the handiwork of right-wing forces that had viciously and relentlessly targeted him. Recently, the media has reported how one fellow-traveller of the Sanstha revealed his failed attempt to convince investigators about the involvement in the plot to kill Dabholkar of the same man they have now arrested. This apart, the activists of MANS drew attention to the manner in which the Sanstha hounded Dabholkar. They allege that almost all their anti-superstition public meetings were disrupted by the group or that authorities were pressured to cancel permission for holding these meetings. Also, a record number of defamation cases were filed against Dabholkar. The obvious motive was to intimidate and distract him. The CBI has now said that even before the 2009 Goa bomb blast, the Sanstha had plotted to kill Dabholkar but circumstances had thwarted its design. A member of the group, Sarang Akolkar, has been declared an absconding accused in this bomb blast case while Sameer Gaikwad, also “allegedly” a member of the Sanstha, was arrested in the Govind Pansare murder case.

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