Dabholkar murder: Jawab Do campaign questions probe delay

Braving showers, a coalition of civil rights activists, commoners, artistes and intellectuals congregated on Monday under the banner of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) on Monday to question the delay in the State government bringing the culprits to justice.

The Jawab Do campaign marked the fifth anniversary of Dr. Dabholkar’s murder with a protest march from Omkareshwar bridge, where the eminent rationalist was gunned down on August 20, 2013. It saw participation by Megha Pansare, daughter-in-law of slain Communist leader Govind Pansare, Kavitha Lankesh, sister of Gauri Lankesh, actors Amol Palekar and Sonali Kulkarni, activist Baba Adhav and Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.

In a counter-protest, supporters of radical Hindutva outfits including the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti held a demonstration against MANS in Kolhapur city in support those arrested in the Dabholkar case.

Dr. Dabholkar’s daughter Mukta Dabholkar said, “While there is some satisfaction that the wheels of the investigation have begun grinding at last, it is not enough to stop at a couple of arrests. We know that all four murders are linked. So, there is a major plot that needs to be unraveled.”

Stating that everyone ought to have the right to voice opinions fearlessly, Ms. Dabholkar said that the Jawab Do’ campaign would go on until the masterminds in the conspiracy were caught. “It is not merely a case of four murders, but the fostering of an inimical climate where dissent on part of authors and activists is being ruthlessly stifled by violent means,” said Megha Pansare, adding the probe into the Dabholkar and Pansare murders were paralysed till the SIT makes a breakthrough in the Gauri Lankesh case.

Hundreds of artistes of the Maharashtra ANIS Lok-Rangamanch, along with noted film and theatre personalities, sang anti-superstition songs and waved black flags during the march. Dr. Hamid Dabholkar, son of the late rationalist, said the need of the hour was to stop the spread of virulent ideas that incite youth to violence in the name of safeguarding a religion, and spread scientific temper. “No religion advocates violence. These fringe right-wing outfits are propagating false myths under the cloak of defending religion.”

Later, the kin of the four deceased activists addressed a gathering at the S.M. Joshi Hall, where the Hindi translation of Dr. Dabholkar’s book, Bhram aur Niraas. was released.

Addressing the audience, Amol Palekar said it was disconcerting to find massive rallies in Mumbai’s Nallasopara in support of Sanatan sympathiser and terror suspect Vaibhav Raut, who was arrested by the Maharashta Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on August 10 for allegedly planning disruptive activities in the State.

Besides Kolhapur and other parts of the State, the Jawab Do campaign is being held in Delhi, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh

Arrest Sanatan chief: Cong.

Demanding that the State government ban the Sanatan Sanstha, the Congress called for the arrest of Dr. Jayant Athavale, who heads the Hindutva outfit.

Speaking in Mumbai, senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said, “If the State government is really intent on finding out who masterminded the murders of rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Communist leader Govind Pansare, scholar M.M. Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh, then it must arrest and question Athavale.” said , speaking in Mumbai.

He said it was imperative that the Sanstha be proscribed in the wake of huge arms cache seized from Sanatan Sanstha sympathiser Vaibhav Raut in Mumbai.

Mr. Vikhe-Patil, who is Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Legislative Assembly, alleged that while probe agencies had nabbed Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar (suspected to be Dr. Dabholkar’s shooters), there were at least 500 youth influenced by ideas propagated by the Sanstha and who were proficient in the use of firearms.

“Probe agencies must interrogate Athavale if they are to nab these youths trained in firearms. The name of the Sanatan Sanstha has repeatedly cropped up during the investigations into the murders of the four thinkers. Yet, why has the government not considered outlawing it?” Mr. Vikhe-Patil said, adding Mr. Andure and others like him had been brainwashed by these right-wing outfits.

“Andure, who worked in a textile shop and Kalaskar, who was a lathe machine operator, were not remotely connected with Dr. Dabholkar. Yet, how is it that these youth from the social margins cold-bloodedly murder the eminent rationalist?” he said.

Mr. Vikhe-Patil said the Congress firmly backed the ‘Jawab Do campaign, and asserted that probe agencies owed much to the success of the Karnataka Police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT), which managed to nab suspects in the murder of Gauri Lankesh. “I will soon be meeting with Karnataka’s Home Minister to urge that a charge sheet be filed against the Sanatan Sanstha in the Gauri Lankesh murder.”

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 7:33:43 AM |

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