Seeking to scotch speculation about the involvement of caste panchayats in the murder of Narendra Dabholkar,Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (ANS) said the police should focus its investigation on people who openly threatened the activist. The police have called such people for questioning and should continue to investigate their role,said ANS activists.
We dont think those who run caste panchayats could be behind the murder. They neither have the reach nor the means to carry out such a well-planned attack, said ANS state chairman Avinash Patil,even as the Pune police failed to arrest anyone even five days after the murder.
Like the Hindu right wing organisations,the police have also been looking at the possibility of the involvement of caste panchayats since ANS had last month launched a state-wide campaign called Jaat Panchayatila Muthmati Abhiyan against them for ostracising people from their own communities.
In the past month,ANS held seminars against caste panchayats at Nashik,Pune and Latur,which had drawn a sizeable crowd. However,ANS activists said they had received no threats from caste panchayats.
Supporting Patils views,Shyam Manav who had founded ANS in 1983 before Dabholkar took over said nothing is hidden about the threats to ANS and the crusader. The threats have been open and frequent from Hindu organisations,which felt that the Act sought to be enacted will hit them hard, he said.
Patil said besides two Hindu organisations,a maharaj and his activists from Ratnagiri had also threatened Dabholkar. At least six to seven of our meetings were attacked by the supporters of this maharaj whom Dabholkar had challenged over spreading superstitious beliefs among the masses. The maharaj had also asked his men to break the bones of Dabholkar, said Patil.
The maharaj and his groups had been nursing a grudge since they were defeated in a public debate over superstitious beliefs some time ago,an ANS activist said.
Patil said the needle of suspicion was clearly on two Hindu organisations,which were formed after ANS launched a massive campaign for the Anti-Superstition and Anti-Black Magic Act. We have not reached a conclusion yet but strongly believe the police should catch people who have in words,both publicly and in print,been regularly threatening ANS and Dabholkar, he said.
The police in Mumbai,Pune and Satara have contacted ANS activists,seeking information about suspects who could have carried out the attacks. The police sought information about Dabholkars stay in Mumbai and the people he met or any arguments that could have taken place. Some of our activists met the police and provided all the information they had, Patil said.