Lifestyle & Belief

Indian state bans black magic after anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar is killed


Mourners pay their respects over the casket of anti-superstition and anti-black magic campaigner Narendra Dabholkar, who was killed in Pune, India, on Aug. 20, 2013.



Maharashtra state in India has approved emergency laws banning black magic, magical cures and superstition following the killing of an anti-superstition campaigner. The parliament must endorse a bill to make the legislation permanent.

BBC reported that Indian anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar, a 71-year-old doctor, was shot dead in broad daylight in the city of Pune on Tuesday.

Police are currently looking for two gunmen in their 20s, who were spotted fleeing the scene on a motorcycle after the shooting.

Dabholker had received numerous death threats in the decades since he began delivering lectures against religious extremism, black magic and animal and human sacrifice in hundreds of villages around Maharashtra state, the Associated Press said.

"He wanted to expose the people who cheat the poor in the name of gods, who promise false cures for cancer or do black magic to perform so-called miracles," Dabholkar’s friend and fellow activist, Deepak Girme, told the AP.

"He would say he was a medical doctor but that superstition was a bigger disease causing a lot of harm, especially to the poor and the gullible."

Dabholkar denied he was anti-religion. "The Indian constitution allows freedom of worship, and nobody can take that away," he told Agence France-Presse in an interview two years ago, according to BBC News. "This is about fraudulent and exploitative practices."

Businesses closed, and hundreds of students and activists marched Wednesday in the streets in Pune to protest his murder.

One protester’s banner read: "You can kill a person with a bullet, but you can't kill his thoughts,” the AP said.

More from GlobalPost: India's economy is getting seriously bad in a serious hurry