Many years ago, a group of young men had come to Narendra Dabholkar’s doorstep to beat him up. When he realised that the men would turn violent, Dr. Dabholkar asked them to sit and have a dialogue. This is what set him apart from the rest — his ability to talk it through with voices of dissent, said writer and activist Pushpa Bhave.

Members of the Left and the Rationalist Movement gathered in Shivaji Maharaj School in Dadar on Sunday evening for a condolence meeting for Dr. Dabholkar, who was shot dead on August 20. “In all the years that I have known Dr. Dabholkar, I have never heard him raise his voice. He has always believed in trying to convince the other person through argument. He did not only stand up against superstition but against anything that was a restriction on the human mind,” she said.

The speakers said Dr. Dabholkar’s death did not mean an end of the rationalist, progressive movement, but was, in fact, a fillip to their struggle.

“The Constitution says that it is the state’s duty to promote scientific temper and attitude. Since the beginning of humanity, there have been people who have tried to kill science to prevent people from knowing the truth. This is how people have promoted superstitions,” said Sitaram Yechury, leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Reiterating the thought, leader of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh Prakah Ambedkar said it is in an atmosphere where socio-economic problems are at their peak that superstitions come to the fore. “The murder was about killing a scientific and rationalist thought process,” he said.