Pune: In an incident that has shocked and disgusted anyone who is not a rabid bottom-feeding parasite, the well-known rationalist, Narendra Dabholkar, was shot dead by unidentified assailants on Tuesday morning this week. It is suspected that Dabholkar was killed for his life-long crusade against superstition, and for refusing to defer to fraudulent and exploitative practices prevalent in one of the world’s oldest faiths, Harry Potterism.
Dabholkar’s death has sparked outrage among people who contend that it is perhaps a wee bit insane to kill a 67-year-old man for pointing out that Wingardium Leviosa isn’t a real thing, to which the overall political response was, “Piss off, you aren’t a large enough votebank.”
However, Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan did say that the attackers were no less than terrorists, probably the kind who, when they’re not busy throwing perfectly good money at rocks that look like Harry Potter, go around telling people that their way of life is in danger from the followers of Frodo The False.
Reacting to Chavan’s statement, a spokesperson for the rationalists said, “As a sceptic, it is wonderful to receive support from a leader who, just last year, tried to solve the state’s water crisis by offering special prayers for rain. And according to the sugar barons in drought-hit areas, it worked.”
Meanwhile, the police are investigating all the pro-Harry outfits that regularly fought the late activist for his work against practices including casteism, a completely logical system of brutality based on social divisions created by a talking hat. One opponent of Dabholkar’s, an ideologue of the Salazar Sanstha, issued a statement terming his death as God’s wish. While this show of sensitivity may have put kitten murderers to shame, his followers insist that he is an inherently good person, pointing to the lightning-shaped mark on his forehead as proof.
The killing has once again brought into focus the rising intolerance of fundamentalist Harry Potter fans towards non-believers who refute socially acceptable oddities, like conjuring a lime-and-chilli patronus to ward off dementors, and are indifferent to July 31st, the birth anniversary of Lord Harry, celebrated with political one-upmanship and groping.
Fanatics insist that their position has been misunderstood. A member of the Vishwa Harry Potterheads (whose Twitter bio reads “Proud Potterhead. Proud Hogwartsian. Hot4Hagrid.”) had this to say:
“As an overwhelmingly large and strong majority, it is understandable that we feel ignored and sidelined, like the girl at the beginning of a fairness cream ad. We believe that no matter what their caste, creed or community, all Potter fans are equal. All we want is for the government to drop everything and rebuild the cupboard in which Harry Potter spent his formative years. Sure, there might be violence, but you can’t make an omelette without killing some Pratchett fans.”
However, assurances like these do little to win over rationalists who, extremists claim, want nothing more than to malign the good name of religion by harping on about so-called evils like wars, genocide, ignorance, the oppression of women, and those fugly people selling Nazar Suraksha Kavach.
In response, the sane people in this country – all six of them – cannot help but come back to the same point: A man devoted his life to eradicating superstition, despite getting death threats the way regular people get Dr. Batra spam. A man took two bullets to the head because he got in the way of someone peddling wizardry.
Dabholkar’s murder only strengthens the biggest superstition in India, one that afflicts millions and runs counter to all forms of logic and sanity, i.e. the notion that someday, somehow, things will get better. May Thor have mercy on us.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 25th Aug 2013.)