I must confess I did not know who Narendra Dabholkar was, but I should have. Today I learned that this man was executed by assassins most likely because of his outspoken criticism of superstition in India. Dabholkar was at the forefront of a long-running campaign to ban superstitious religious practices by getting the state of Maharashtra to pass an anti black-magic bill. He died on Tuesday after being shot by two gunmen riding a motorcycle.
According to Michael Shermer on Twitter, he was the Indian equivalent of James Randi, offering 500,000 rupees (£5,000) to any spiritualist who could successfully summon spirits. The licence plate of the attackers was noted but as yet, nothing has been done. One wonders whether anything will in a country where superstitious practices are very prevalent.
Of course, we have had our own religiously motivated murders in the West so maybe we should not be too surprised. Still it is shocking, when someone is killed for simply asking those to verify their claims. This leads me back to consider activism against believers. I see that Dave Mabus has started up his activities again leaving his deranged comments here as well as emailing me and many other prominent skeptics again – BOOM… those who get the messages will get the joke. Still, how do we protect ourselves from the deluded who become dangerous. Dabholkar’s death reminds us not to become complacent.
UPDATE: We have just learned that there has been a call for a strike in protest at the killing. One hopes that this goes ahead.
New Update: It has just been announced that the Government has passed the anti-magic bill that Dabholkar had fought to get passed. I guess that is a comfort to those he left behind.