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.
4 responses to “Indian “Randi” Murdered”
The killing of ‘unbelievers’ seems so commonplace nowadays that liberals and freethinkers have to be tempted towards a more militant opposition to those gripped by unquestioning dogma . But , taken to extremes , this leads to one becoming as morally tainted as those one opposes .
I myself had an unpleasant experience on this site a little while ago of feeling ‘shot at’ by two commenters who obviously came from the militant wing of the Chuch of Skepticism . I think I ran into the same kind of people who , if feeling threatened , might well have thought of borrowing a motorcycle .
So how do atheists , skeptics or liberals resist those whose beliefs allow for the slaughter of their opponents ? I do believe that the answer is more to do with resilience , humour and energy than their opposites . When one lifts the same weapons as the opponent has chosen the fight is already lost .
A massive show of solidarity is a very apt rejoinder to this crime .
Dr. Narendra Dabholkar’s contribution to Indian society can be aptly described by this Jerry Coyne quote
We’re in a war not for science, but against superstition, which enables nonscientific views
Too true. We forget so easily how superstition can become dangerous
Superstition exist in politics in art in all that we do to show our status and ideas, is a matter of not using all the knowledge that exceptional humans have discovered to make our lives less dark and more incredibly magical. Like knowing how DNA Works, and rain falls and brains work. Narendra is my kind guy, many flowers will Bloom on his tumb.