We condemn the murder of Narendra Dabholkar, rationalist activist, in Pune on August 20. While the motive for the murder is not known, he had reportedly received death threats from extremist elements opposed to his campaign against superstition. Other rationalist activists such as Sanal Edamaruku have reported receiving death threats.

We demand that this crime be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. We also demand that threats of this kind to activists in future are investigated promptly before another tragedy occurs. We ask that those whose religious beliefs are offended by rationalists should express their views in words, and should take the lead in condemning violence from extremist elements in their religion.

Finally, we note that an ordinance on superstitious practices, along the lines of the bill proposed by Dabholkar, has been passed by the Maharashtra cabinet on August 22. We hope that this ordinance, after adequate debate of its provisions, will become law in Maharashtra, and that similar legislation will be pursued in other states — particularly in Tamil Nadu, where the rationalist movement has a long and respected history.

Ramesh Anishetty, A.B. Belliappa, Madhushree Basu, Saikat Chatterjee, T.R. Govindarajan, Nirmalya Kajuri, Romesh Kaul, Ravi Kunjwal, Kamalakshya Mahatab, S.M. Meesum, Gautam Menon, Amritanshu Prasad, R. Ramanujam, P. Sankaran, Bala Sathiapalan, R. Shankar, Rahul Siddharthan, Sitabhra Sinha, K. Srinivas,V.S. Sunder, T. Vinod Kumar.

(The signatories are from The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai. These are their personal views.)

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