Narendra Dabholkar, a leading anti-superstition campaigner, social worker and journalist, was Tuesday gunned down here by unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle, police said.

The attack took place around 7.30 a.m. near Omkareshwar Temple, when Dabholkar, in his 60s, was on his morning walk.

The two gunmen fired several shots at Dabholkar and sped away, leaving him in a pool of blood.

The victim was rushed by other co-walkers to Sassoon Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Police Commissioner Gulabrao Pol and other senior officials rushed to the scene of crime.

Police claimed to have got some leads on the killers, adding that at least four bullets found their target in the victim’s neck and back.

Condemning Dabholkar’s killing, state Home Minister R.R. Patil vowed that his killers would be nabbed at the earliest and police were working in this direction.

A rationalist known for his bold views and sustained campaign against superstitions for over three decades, Dabholkar had rubbed many people the wrong way.

In his 60s, he was largely instrumental in pushing the state government to frame an anti—superstition law which is in the final stages of legislative approval.

In 1989, he founded the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), along with a few like-minded people and raised cudgels against all types of superstitions, irrational practices, blind faith and beliefs, confronting dubious tantriks and babas who preyed on the gullible masses.

He also led agitations against superstitions, animal sacrifices and even water pollution, wrote columns and articles on his favourite topics and was editor of a couple of journals dedicated to the cause.

Dabholkar’s killing has been widely condemned by people from all sections of society.

  • Dabholkar was a doctor by profession

  • He was part of movements for social justice, such as Baba Adhava’s One village One well agitation

  • He is the founding member of Parivartan, a de-addiction centre located in Satara

  • He was the editor of a Marathi weekly called Sadhana.