The Assassination of an Atheist

by Rachel Baker on September 20, 2013

In a country considered to be modern, secular and as having highly rated programs in medicine and science, a man was assassinated for not believing in, and in fact often debunking, the superstitions of a segment of the country’s religious beliefs.

Dr. Narendra Dabholkar dedicated his life to overcoming superstition in India. Originally a medical doctor, Dabholkar spent years exposing religious charlatans, quacks, frauds, purveyors of “miracle cures,” and other con artists preying on gullibility, desperation, and trust. An activist against caste discrimination in India, and an advocate for women’s rights and environmentalism, Dabholkar’s commitment to social justice was expansive and enduring. But it was his work against superstition that earned him his fame.

India is a huge, hugely diverse country, and much of it — particularly the south — is thoroughly modern, urban, and largely secular. But much of the country — particularly the north — is saturated with self-proclaimed sorcerers, faith healers, fortune tellers, psychics, gurus, godmen, and other spiritual profiteers. In parts of the country, people are beaten, mutilated or murdered for being suspected of witchcraft, and there are even rare cases of human sacrifice – including thesacrifice of children – in rituals meant to appease the gods.

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