‘Pansare’s murder was not that of an individual but an idea’ | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

‘Pansare’s murder was not that of an individual but an idea’

ByJyoti Punwani
Feb 21, 2024 07:06 AM IST

Speakers at a meeting commemorating Govind Pansare linked his assassination to Hindutvavadis, emphasizing the need to address the ideology of inequality.

MUMBAI: “Had the government taken Narendra Dabholkar’s murder seriously, Govind Pansare wouldn’t have been killed.” This was the belief expressed by those who have been following the case, at a meeting held by the Communist Party of India to commemorate nine years of Govind Pansare’s assassination.

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Well known rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was killed in Pune in August 2013. His killing was followed by the murder of communist writer Comrade Govind Pansare on February 20, 2015. Then came the killing of progressive writer MM Kalburgi in Dharwad, Karnataka in August 2015; and of journalist Gauri Lankesh in September 2017 in Bengaluru.

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Speakers at the meeting linked the four killings, saying their masterminds were the same: Hindutvavadis. They remained out of reach of the law as both the state and Central government lacked the will to book them, they said. Pansare’s best-selling book ‘Shivaji kon hota’ was key to his killing, said the speakers, emphasising that the murder was not that of an individual but an ideology that upheld equality.

His book demolished the myth that had been built up of the Maratha king being a “protector of cows” and an “enemy of Muslims”, said Nandkishore Talashikar, a member of the Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, founded by Dr Dabholkar. Pansare, on the other hand, showed through historical research that Shivaji was a king who looked after the welfare of his subjects, whatever caste and religion they belonged to.

Pansare took this message to students and ordinary people through workshops and public meetings, pointed out trade unionist Milind Ranade. Hence, he had to be silenced physically by those threatened by this ideology, since he was not the kind to be intimidated or bought over.

Uday Bhat of Lal Nishan Party recalled that when the final draft of the Constitution was presented to President Rajendra Prasad by Dr B R Ambedkar in November 1949, the RSS mouthpiece organiser had said, “There is nothing Indian about the Indian Constitution.” The Constitution stood for equality of every citizen, a concept alien to traditional Indian thought which was based on the caste system. Hence, it was natural for it to be considered “un-Indian” by the RSS, said Bhat. It was the duty of progressives to take the main features of the Constitution -- scientific temper and fraternity -- to all sections.

Writer Arjun Dangle, one of the founders of the Dalit Panther movement, of the ’70s, called for the progressive movement to learn from Pansare both how to identify the enemy – “crony capitalism,” -- and how to communicate with different sections. “What is being called ‘cultural nationalism’ is actually ‘cultural terrorism’,” he said.

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