Four years on, Dabholkar's killers still at large, 'lack of political will', say activists

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With investigations into the assassination of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar going nowhere, activists in Maharashtra are all set to begin a month-long campaign seeking answers. "Jawab do", a campaign led by Dabholkar's association against superstition seeks to remind the public, politicians and agencies that justice delayed is justice denied.

File photo of President of Maharashtra Anti-Superstition Association Narendra Dabholkar

"We will put up posters reminding people of where the investigation stands. We will also distribute and put up pictures of the absconding accused in the case so they can be identified and brought to the books," said Mukta Dabholkar, the slain rationalist's daughter. For almost four years, Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti has been fighting to bring the assailants to the books.

"Come August 20 and it will be four years since his murder of Dr Dabholkar. Investigations in this case and those of Govind Pansare and Dr M M Kalburgi have gone nowhere despite being investigated by agencies like CBI, SIT and Karnataka CID," said Avinash Patil, Executive President of MANS.

Samir Gaikwad who was arrested in connection with Govind Pansare's murder was let out on bail while Dr Virendrasingh Tawade who was held for Dabholkar's murder continues to be in jail. Two more accused named in the chargesheet, Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar are still absconding. All those arrested and made accused in the case have links with the Sanatan Sanstha.

"Lack of political will"

The MANS has decided to do the job of the investigating agencies by putting up posters of the accused in the case. "There has been no action against the organisation that all these men have links with. The investigations are going nowhere but does that mean our agencies are incompetent? Two of those named in the FIR have been missing since 2009 Goa blast. Why are the agencies not able to find them? There is a sheer lack of political will. State, as well as Centre government, has failed to give the agencies the support to crackdown on such elements," Avinash Patil added.

The MANS will take out delegations to MPs and MLAs and seek their stand on the case. Between July 20 and August 20, the organisation will push for legislators to raise the issue of Dabholkar's murder in the houses.

Inadequate evidence pose a threat to trial

While almost four years after Dr Narendra Dabholkar was murdered, the case has reached the trial stage, his family and followers want a stay. "The investigation agencies are stuck at the same point. The case has reached trial stage but we have sought a stay in the High court because evidence hasn't been collected. The commencement of trial will not help or benefit the case when there is no enough evidence. Moreover, two murderers are still absconding," said Mukta Dabholkar.

MANS activists have made multiple representations to the elected representatives and have also sought appointments from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, however, neither leaders have given them appointments. "Such murderers damage the secular fabric of our country. The charge sheet in the case clearly mentions that the murder took place not because of personal rivalry but because of ideological clashes," Patil added.

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