Two unidentified gunmen on motorcycles shot Narendra Dabholkar in the city of Pune while he was taking an early-morning walk, according to local reports. The gunmen fled the scene. Dabholkar died from injuries sustained to his neck and back, police said.
Dabholkar was the editor of a weekly Marathi-language print magazine called Sadhana (Spiritual Devotion), which promotes scientific thought and covers topics including caste, politics, and religion. Over the years, Dabholkar had angered many Indians with his lectures and writings, which propagated rationalism and scientific thinking in a country where superstitious beliefs are still rampant, the reports said.
Dabholkar, a prominent campaigner against religious superstition, had also spent several years writing in support of legislation to ban fraudulent and exploitative superstitious practices. A few days before his murder, the Maharashtra state government said it would introduce a controversial anti-superstition bill, according to reports.
Dabholkar had received threats in the days before his murder, his son, Hamid, told NDTV. Sadhana often published articles on sensitive issues, including the creation of a separate Telangana state, student suicides, farmer suicides, slums, and the ideology behind India's Naxalite movement.
Dabholkar had also founded the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (Committee for Eradication of Blind Faith), a group that encouraged social reform in India.
Maharashtra Home Minister R. R. Patil said on August 23, 2013, that police were investigating the murder.