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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

‘Dabholkar of Uttar Pradesh’: self-styled godmen’s worst fear

Anupam Srivastava, Hindustan Times  Lucknow, September 24, 2013
First Published: 09:23 IST(24/9/2013) | Last Updated: 09:27 IST(24/9/2013)

His relentless crusade against superstitions and self-styled godmen has earned him the title of Uttar Pradesh’s Dabholkar.

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Like the late Maharashtra-based activist, he too has been warned, flayed and attacked by regressive minds but that has not deterred him from pursuing his dream – establishing a rational society.

Meet Rajkamal Srivastava. In the last 27 years, the 52-year-old has held more than 3,000 workshops, awareness programmes, seminars and skits to expose fraudsters passing off their trickery as ‘chamatkar’.

The desire to do something in the direction struck him during a visit to Jalaun years ago.

“I had gone to a village with some friends when I saw a girl being forced to present herself as goddess Durga before the residents. I immediately contacted the department of science and technology as well as the district administration.”

He added: “When the officials reached the village, the girl admitted her father was forcing her to do such acts for money. This episode changed my life and I decided to dedicate my life to this cause. Till now, I have exposed more than 120 godmen,” says Srivastava, a science graduate from Lucknow University.

His organisation -- Scientific and Rationalist Society -- has been working to develop scientific temperament among citizens since 1986.

“Indian society is unique as here science and blind belief go hand in hand. Despite increasing literacy, we are still deeply superstitious.

Today, every youth wants to study science to become a doctor or an engineer but he would still seek a godman’s blessing to fulfill the dream,” says Srivastava.

“Instead of working hard and following the right path, they want to achieve everything through a miracle,” he adds.

Srivastava, who has been serving the district science club voluntarily for the last 20 years as a coordinator, has fond memories of Dabholkar, who was killed last month.

“He was a straightforward man and had a lot of backing from the Maharashtra government. This is why he was able to bring the anti-superstition and anti-black magic bill. I also want a similar bill passed by the UP assembly,” he says.

On Asaram Bapu, he says, “I am not against the worship of God but I am against worship of regular human beings posing themselves as Him. There is a simple science behind every miracle they perform, which we need to understand.”

Srivastava’s efforts have found support in the Council of Science and Technology that backs his anti-superstition campaign in the state.

He says, “I am happy that the department of science is helping me in my ventures. Each time a youth contacts me to expose a fake baba in his locality, I feel my efforts are paying off.”


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