Friday, Dec 02, 2022

The three rationalists murdered in the last two years in their own voice

Excerpts from selected writings of Dabholkar and Pansare

Updated: November 7, 2015 9:44:00 am

Title: The Republic of Reason: Words They Could Not Kill
Selected Writings of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi
Publisher: Sahmat
Pages: 120
Price: Rs 120

Excerpts from the book:

Narendra Dabholkar: Whether a person is moral or not does not depend on whether he or she eats meat

kalburgi, dhabolkar, pansare, govind pansare, narendra dhabolkar, mm kalburgi, writer killing, india writer killed, rss, sangh killing, shiv sena, indian express books, new books, book reviews Dr Narendra Dabholkar was shot in Pune on August 20, 2013.

The idea of examining moral values is not palatable to some people. Actually, the stand one should take should be, “’feel free to examine my morality. It will stand your test and if it does not it won’t be morality.” Why should one stick to things that don’t stand the test? A piece of gold is never afraid of being tested in the furnace, because it is confident that going through the test will make it more lustrous. Same is the case with morality. It easily stands the test of time eternal.

Let me explain how. Honesty, strict vegetarianism on the part of Brahmins and denial of education to women were three among the several values observed by the society a hundred years ago. What do we think of them today? Honesty is a timeless value. Society’s stability depends on whether its members are honest in their dealings with each other. We have to proceed with our dealings taking it for granted that people are honest. The society benefits to the extent that they are honest. Brahmins’ vegetarianism was another value of those days. But now it is rendered obsolete. Today, whether a person is moral or not does not depend on whether he or she eats meat. The third moral value of those days was denial of education to women. For a woman to be educated was to be immoral. The situation today is reversed. The democratic governments of today give priority to women’s education in their policy. This reveals how moral values change with time. Many restrictions — political, economic, psychological and religious — bind every individual. Freeing oneself from these bindings is as important for a person as his own resolution to be moral. Mahatma Gandhi used to say, “I fight the British rule because the political and economic restrictions they have placed on us come in the way of my being moral.” The exploitation by the British rule was immoral. So Gandhiji opposed it. The so-called religious morality engenders superstition and mental slavery that leads to immorality. So [the Andhasraddha Nirmulan Samiti] ANiS opposes it.

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ANiS welcomes that morality, which treasures humaneness, promotes time-tested values, elevates the society and the individual.

Whether it comes from religious sentiment or from rational humanism is the moot point. ANiS expects that it should emerge from the bottom of the heart and it should accept the need for social change to engender moral behavior in the society. ANiS always welcomes such a morality because creating a moral society is a thing dearest to hearts of our activists.

Excerpted from the essay ‘Ethics and the Eradication of Superstition’

Govind Pansare: The Sangh is the boss

kalburgi, dhabolkar, pansare, govind pansare, narendra dhabolkar, mm kalburgi, writer killing, india writer killed, rss, sangh killing, shiv sena, indian express books, new books, book reviews Govind Pandharinath Pansare

Sarsanghachalak and other leaders of the RSS were never tired of claiming ad nauseum for years that the RSS was a cultural organisation and it had nothing to do with politics. The RSS was banned after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. The organisation, in a letter to the then home minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, assured that the Sangh was a cultural organisation and it did not dabble in politics. Having procured this letter of assurance, and other assurances, the ban on the RSS was lifted.


However, in the recent Mahashibir (Great Camp) at Nagpur, its chief, Rajendrasingh or Rajju Bhaiyya, issued a firman to the swayamsevaks to do everything for the success of the BJP in the forthcoming elections…Well, the RSS is now claiming Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy. It is more than clear now that the RSS is the mother organisation and BJP, BMS, ABVP, VHP, BJYM, Bajrang Dal, Patit Pavan Sanghatana are its affiliates or masks, mukhaute.

It is the Sangh which decides who is to speak, what and when. Sangh is the boss, the rest subsidiaries. The Sangh determines the policy, others merely implement it, so goes its style of functioning. One cannot forget what Govindacharya said recently, “Atal Bihari Vajpayee too is a mukhauta. The real leader is Advani.” Such is the Sangh with its mukhauta. It is now donning another mukhauta, of Mahatma Gandhi.
Well, why not, one may ask…

Nathuram Godse, a Savarkarite activist of RSS, working in the Hindu Mahasabha, murdered Mahatma Gandhi on 30 January, 1948. Nathuram, his brother Gopal, a Sangh activist himself and a co-accused in the conspiracy, and in fact all the RSS activists justified the Mahatma’s murder, which they still do… On the day of Gandhi’s murder, sweets (pedhas and sugar) were distributed in Pune and other places. This Nathuram was hanged on 15 November, so the Sangh people, sometime clandestinely and sometime openly, observe this day. For the whole of the country, 30 January is the Martyr’s Day. For the Sangh, it is 15 November. For India, Mahatma Gandhi is a martyr; for the Sangh Parivar, Nathuram is a martyr.


It’s a weird thing; on the one hand murder someone, justify the dastardly act, treat the murderer as a martyr, celebrate the murder and, on the other, proclaim “Gandhian socialism”, display huge posters of him and remember the man in prayers every morning. How to explain this riddle?

Excerpted from the essay ‘Mahatma Gandhi and his legacy’

From the epilogue: ‘This murder is not another statistic’*

On August 7, 2015 Niloy Chatterjee Neel was at home in an apartment complex in Dhaka’s North Gohan area when a gang of unknown assailants forced their way in. Armed with machetes, they preceded to brutally hack Neel, who went by the pen-name Niloy Neel, to death. This murder could be seen as a mere crime statistic and reminder that violence is still a part of life in Bangladesh along with the rest of south Asia. Except it should not be seen like that because it is not. The motive betrays what it really was about.

Neel was a secular blogger and activist. He was a member of the “Gonojagoran Moncha”, a platform for youth demanding capital punishment for those guilty of war crimes during Bangladesh’s war for independence. Apart from that, he frequently blogged against communalism and fundamentalism on his website ‘Istishon’ (Station). He had received a lot of death threats from religious fanatics for his work…

The Bangladesh branch of Al Qaida in the Indian subcontinent, Ansar Al Islam, sent an email claiming credit for the killing and warned of more to come. The Dhaka Tribune reported the email as saying: “We, Al-Qaida in the Indian subcontinent, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the honour of the messenger of Allah… If your ‘Freedom of Speech’ maintains no limits, then widen your chests for ‘Freedom of our Machetes’.”

Neel’s murder wasn’t the first one either. He was the fourth blogger to be murdered in this fashion by fundamentalist elements in this year alone. The murder is a testament to the growing wave of religious extremism and radicalisation in Bangladesh.


The first one to be murdered in 2015 was Bangladesh-born US citizen Avijit Roy on February 26. Roy was the founder of the Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog site which champions liberal secular writing… Roy was followed by Oyasiqur Rahman Babu, an atheist blogger…The third blogger to be killed was Anant Bijoy Das on May 12. Das was murdered as he was headed to work in a bank in Sylhet. He was ambushed by machete-wielding assailants who chased him down and hacked him to death in the middle of a busy road. Das was an atheist who wrote blogs for Mukto-Mona which was formerly moderated by Roy. He had been receiving threats which increased after Roy’s murder…

Following the murders of Roy and Babu, Das had reached out to the International Humanist and Ethical Union, a global umbrella organisation embracing humanist, atheist, rationalist, secularist, sceptic, freethinking and similar organisations worldwide. According to a statement of the IHEU, he wrote to the organisation: “It seems to me I am one of the targets. I am not sure how long I will hide myself. But I am sure if they find me, they will do what they did to Mr Avijit Roy. My life is seriously unsecured [sic]. I am not sure how can I protect myself and my family”…

Excerpted from the essay ‘Chilling winds in the neighbourhood’

kalburgi, dhabolkar, pansare, govind pansare, narendra dhabolkar, mm kalburgi, writer killing, india writer killed, rss, sangh killing, shiv sena, indian express books, new books, book reviews Book cover of ‘The Republic of Reason’.

The book can be got by emailing the publisher at

*In the print version, the epilogue was wrongly attributed to M M Kalburgi