The activist was campaigning to persuade the state government to pass an anti-superstition and black magic bill. But the bill was opposed by hardline Hindu groups like Warakari Sanghatana and Sanatan Prabhat on the ground that it hurt their religious sentiments.
He headed the Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (committee for eradication of blind faith), an organisation with the aim to promote rational thought and scientific temper.
Dabholkar had authored several books and was the editor of progressive magazine Sadhana.
“He believed in non-violence,” said Dabholkar's daughter Mukta Patwardhan. “He had not sought any security.”
Maharashtra home minister RR Patil condemned the killing of Dabholkar.
“Dabholkar represented a progressive movement in the state,” said Patil.
“Our priority right now is to catch and punish the murderers.”
Dabholkar is survived by his wife, daughter and son Hamid.