Avinash Patil, an engineer by training, took over as executive president of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti after his leader and the organisation president Dr Narendra Dabholkar was murdered in Pune on August 22 this year. He spoke to HT.
The Maharashtra assembly passed the anti-superstition Bill today. Do you think the council will pass it too?
We are encouraged, greatly encouraged, that the state assembly passed it today but this is only the first step of the process. Last time too, the assembly had passed but it was stuck in the council. But we are all terribly sad that this comes after Dr. Dabholkar’s murder.Why did we have to lose him to get the law?
This is a diluted version of the Bill that your organisation wanted. Comment.
Yes, some alterations have been made but even then, we believe that this is a small first step in reforming our society and taking it towards rationalism. Even in the present form, if it becomes law, it will be an important instrument in the rationalists’ hands to counter aghori and inhuman black magic practices.
Are you upset about the changes made, especially the “saving clauses” and the one preventing third parties from filing a complaint?
Yes, in a way, but it does not totally negate the purpose of the Act. This is because Indian law allows any citizen who is witness to such practices to file a complaint, under IPC Sections 211 and 212, Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) 43.
Does the work and campaign of the Samiti carry on from here?
Yes, of course. Just having a law – and it’s not yet a law – does not mean that the society has been rid of its ills and has become rationalist. We have to educate people about the law, pursue cases, and continue our other ideological work to build scientific temper.