Magazine editor Narendra Dabholkar shot dead in India

New York, August 20, 2013–Indian authorities should thoroughly investigate today’s murder of an editor of a magazine and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Two unidentified gunmen on motorcycles shot Narendra Dabholkar in the city of Pune early today, Agence France-Presse reported. The gunmen fled the scene, according to local reports. Dabholkar, who was shot in his neck and back, died from his injuries, police said.

Dabholkar, 71, 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. Dabholkar’s lectures and writings propagated rationalism and scientific thinking in India, a country where superstitious beliefs are still rampant, the reports said.

Indian authorities can demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law by identifying the motive behind the murder of Narendra Dabholkar and ensuring his killers are held responsible,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.

The editor’s murder comes days after the Maharashtra state government said it would introduce a controversial anti-superstition bill, according to reports. Dabholkar had spent several years campaigning for legislation to ban fraudulent and exploitative superstitious practices, which are still widespread across India. He 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 condemned the shooting and said those responsible would be brought to justice, news reports said. Police are investigating the murder, the reports said.

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