Around 2000 people, mostly social and political activists, artistes and students, participated in events on Wednesday organised to commemorate the first death anniversary of anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar and to protest against failure of police to nab his killers.
Dabholkar, a physician, was a noted rationalist, editor of a monthly magazine and an activist who relentlessly campaigned for an anti-superstition Act in Maharashtra.
The rally which kick-started from Maharashi Shinde bridge where the activist was murdered by unknown assailants on August 20 last year proceeded towards Manohar Mangal Karyalaya in Kothrud, where it culminated in a mass gathering in which colleagues, friends and relatives paid tribute to Dabholkar.
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Actors Naseeruddin Shah, Amol Palekar, Shreeram Laagu, Ratna Pathak Shah, Sonali Kulkarni, director Nagraj Manjule, labour union leader Baba Adhav, communist leader Kiran Moghe, Suniti S R , Dabholkar’s son Hamid, daughter Mukta, MANS Executive President
Avinash Patil and journalist Ashish Khetan were present.
The protest began at about 7.30 am at Maharshi Shinde bridge with volunteers and other participants singing songs about the movement and Dr Dabholkar’s work. The gathering reached Pune Municipal Corporation where they paid tribute to reformer Mahatma Phule and then proceeded towards Manohar Mangal Karyalaya.
The participants raised slogans against for failure to nab the killers.
“It’s been a year since Dr Dabholkar, my father, was killed,” said Mukta. “In the last 12 months workers of MANS and other activists have given a new thrust to the movement against superstition. We found support from many quarters in dealing with the personal tragedy,” she said.
Subhash Ware of Aam Aadmi Party said, “Challenges are increasing by the day. On one hand influence of right-wing forces has grown and forces and organisations that were silent are coming out openly. Parties like Congress and Nationalist Congress Party are blatantly carrying out politics of nepotism and corruption. It’s a must that movements like MANS increase their base by increasing popular support.”
Actor Naseeruddin Shah said it was a shame that even after a year, the killers were roaming free. “I don’t know what the feelings of people in power are about this. But I am ashamed,” he said.
Film-maker Nagraj Manjule said he hailed from a superstitious background and understood the importance of Dr Dabholkar’s work and the immense loss his untimely demise has caused.
Adhav said the assault on Dabholkar was an assault on Indian Constitution. “Dabholkar epitomised scientific temper. Spread of scientific temper is a constitutional duty. The attack on Dabholkar was an attack on the constitution,” said Adhav.