After Dabholkar's murder, Maharashtra clears anti-superstition law

Last Updated: Wed, Aug 21, 2013 12:40 hrs

Mumbai, Aug 21 (IANS) A day after anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead, the Maharashtra government Wednesday decided to promulgate an ordinance to enact a long-pending bill to eradicate black magic, blind faith and superstitious beliefs.

The law will be the first such in the country.

Dabholkar spearheaded a campaign against supersititions, black magic and witchcraft for the past three decades. He was shot dead by two motorcycle-borne assailants near the Omkareshwar Temple in Pune Tuesday morning, sparking outrage across the state.

The Maharashtra cabinet decided unanimously to promulgate the ordinance, which was introduced in the assembly in 1995.

The Maharashtra Eradication of Blind Faith Bill, redrafted around 29 times, was to be passed by the legislature. However, it was delayed due to severe opposition from various quarters, especially Hindu groups, which claimed it to be "anti-Hindu".

The bill will empower the government to bring under its ambit social and religious evils, human or animal sacrifices, rituals to drive out evil spirits or ensure a male progeny, perpetrated by self-styled godmen, witchcraft and wizardry practitioners, often cheating the gullible public.

Though debated in the legislature several times until it lapsed in 2009, it was expected to be re-introduced this year in the monsoon session of the assembly.

Now, in the wake of the state-wide anger against Dabholkar's murder, the state government has decided to take the ordinance route since the winter session of the legislature is in mid-December.

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