The Biography of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, a Leading Anti-Superstition Activist

Dr Narendra Dabholkar was a leading Anti SuperStition Activist from Maharashtra and the Founder of Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti.

He was born on August 1, 1945 and was the youngest of ten siblings, the eldest of whom was late educationist, Gandhian and socialist Devdatta Dabholkar. He did his schooling at New English School Satara and Willingdon College Sangli. He was a qualified medical doctor, having obtained an MBBS degree from the Miraj Medical College, Miraj.

Narendra Dabholkar Photo

Narendra Dabholkar

In college, he was the captain of the Shivaji University Kabaddi team. He represented India against Bangladesh in a Kabaddi tournament. He won the most prestigious Chhatrapati Shivaji Krida Puraskar for Kabaddi from the government of Maharashtra. He practiced as a general practitioner for nearly 12 years after which he joined active social work. In the beginning he was associated with the movements for social justice and equality and at that time he worked with Baba Adhav, in the “One Village One drinking water well” agitation.

In 1983 he started working in the field of superstition eradication. In 1989 along with other like-minded people, he founded the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti. He has been the Executive President of ANS right from the beginning. He has written number of books on various aspects of superstitions and their eradication. In the past 20 years he has confronted many Babas, Buas, Tantrik, Mantriks, etc. and has led many agitations against many forms of superstitions, water pollution, animal sacrifice etc. He is also the founder member of a de-addiction Centre, Parivartan, Satara. This is the only Institute of its kind in the districts of Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, and Konkan.

In the 2010s, Dabholkar made several failed attempts to get an anti-superstition law enacted in the state of Maharashtra. Under his supervision, MANS drafted the Anti-Jaadu Tona Bill (Anti-Black magic Bill). It was opposed by Hindu extremist organizations across the board as well as the Warkari sect. Political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena opposed it on the grounds that it would adversely affect Hindu culture, customs and traditions.
A couple of weeks before his death, Dabholkar had complained that the bill had not been discussed despite being tabled in seven sessions of the state assembly. He accused the chief minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Prithviraj Chavan of stifling progressive thought in the state. After Dabholkar’s death, Chavan said that the bill should have a “common consensus after rigorous discussions”.

On 20 August 2013, while out on a morning walk, Dabholkar was shot at by two unidentified gunmen near Omkareshwar temple, Pune at 7:20 AM IST. The assailants fired four rounds at him from a point blank range and fled on a motorcycle parked nearby. Two bullets hit Dabholkar in his head and chest. He latter succumbed to his injuries while being treated at Sassoon Hospital. His killing was condemned by many political leaders and social activists.