‘The men who killed Gandhi, the minds behind it, have killed Dabholkar too’

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Prithviraj Chavan
Photo: Vijay Pandey

Narendra Dabholkar’s murder is a blot on the image of Maharashtra. Will the state wake up?

I will agree with you, it’s a serious blow to the progressive image of Maharashtra which we were so proud of. It has come as a shock to all of us. Narendra Dabholkar was a simple man with no political ambitions and no affiliations, whose only purpose was the service of society and social upliftment. He was fighting against blind faith superstition, himself being a doctor. I am outraged at the broad daylight murder of Dabholkar not just as the CM of the state, but also as an individual who held him in high regard. This is clearly the work of those people who carried a similar terrorist attack in 1948, unfortunately in the same city of Pune. The men who killed Gandhi, the minds behind it, have killed Dabholkar too.

So are you suggesting that the Sanatan Sanstha which had openly threatened Dabholkar is behind it?

See, it will be too early and irresponsible on my part to make a statement when the investigation is underway. I am told that Narendra Dabholkar had put on a tough fight to the wrongdoings by radical organisations in the state and at this point, logically the finger points towards them. But we will have to wait for a couple of days to come to a conclusion. However I would want to send a message to the country and the state that this heinous crime will not be tolerated and the culprits will be brought to book. They have attacked the secular fabric of this state and country

But it seems the state woke up a bit too late. RTI activists have been murdered in your state. Radical organisations have been giving speeches from Azad Maidan claiming that activists like Dabholkar would meet the same fate as Gandhi. What was the state doing?

See, the necessary action is taken as and when required, but we will also take action when someone files a complaint with us. It is not that we had not heeded to the recommendations made. We have been sending reports to the Home Ministry over these acerbic speeches. However if one has to take action or ban the organisation, the power for the same rests with the Centre. I would urge all activists, writers to report these matters to our Home department. The speeches were clearly made to create an atmosphere of communal tension in the state and this has been going on for a while now. It is extremely unfortunate that Dabholkar had to pay a heavy price for exposing these forces. Clearly he was on his way to exposing the rot.

Would you still not consider a ban on the Sanatan Sanstha which has been complicit in blasts since 2008?

See, a proposal to ban this organisation has been with the Centre. We have sent in reports on the same. Our intelligence agencies too have been warning us. We will have to take a decision on this soon.

Narendra Dabholkar was at the forefront of getting the state to pass the anti-superstition bill? This is the least the state can do?

Yes, I agree and we are looking at coming together on an ordinance for the blind faith bill and we are united on this.

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