Exactly a year after 77-year-old Kannada scholar and rationalist M.M. Kalburgi was shot dead at his Dharwad residence, the investigating agency is still clueless about the killers.
On Tuesday, on the occasion of the first death anniversary of Professor Malleshappa Madiwalappa Kalburgi, former vice-chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi, members representing more than 100 organisations and litterateurs from across the country converged at Dharwad for a silent march demanding justice for Kalburgi. His wife Umadevi lead the march, along with the wives of two other slain rationalists, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, as all three cases remain unresolved.
Kalburgi’s case has striking similarities with the killings of Narendra Dabholkar, 65, and Govind Pansare, 84. In August 2013, Narendra Dabholkar, an anti-superstition activist and founder of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (responsible for the anti-superstition bill in Maharashtra) was shot dead by unidentified assailants, when Dabholkar was on his morning walk on Omkareshwar bridge in Pune. In February 2015, social activist and veteran Communist Govind Pansare was shot dead in Kolhapur.
The CID, which is investigating the Kalburgi murder case, seems to have hit a dead-end, after the initial revelation that the weapon used in Kalburgi's murder was "the same one" used in the murder of Pansare and Dabholkar. They had found forensic evidence linking the three murders. The FSL, Bengaluru report stated that a 7.65 mm country-made pistol was used in all three cases (the CBI probing Dabholkar murder has sought reconfirmation from Scotland Yard in London). However, the family is unhappy with the slow-paced probe.
Home Minister G. Parameshwara maintained that the state has taken the probe very seriously. "The preliminary probe hints that the killing was for ideological reasons. The case is being probed by a big team. The FSL reports are being verified by the Scotland Yard," said Parameshwara.
The murder that had shocked the state had also led to writers returning their state awards in protest against the "growing intolerance to dissent". They also demanded speedy justice and implementation of the long-pending anti-superstition bill. But their demands remain to be honoured by the government.
Addressing the rally at Dharwad, litterateur Prof Chandrashekhar Patil (Champa) alleged that the probe was perhaps being stalled by communal forces. "Both the ruling and opposition parties seem to be stalling the probe. The Brahmin and Lingayat lobbies might be at work. It is sad the Lingayats and Veerashaivas have supported communalism," said Champa.
While, the probe is yet to ascertain the motive behind the murder, the home minister claimed the investigations point to ideological differences to be the reason behind the crime. Kalburgi, who has authored 103 books (including the popular Marga series) and more than 400 articles, was honoured with state and central Sahithya Akademi awards, Pampa award, Janapada Award, Nrupathunga Award and Basava Puraskar among others.
However, his frequent face-offs with the conservatives in the community including religious mutts, his claims that Lingayats were not Veerashaivas (and not even Hindus), and his suggestion for rota system for Panchadipathis (the heads of five major Lingayat mutts) to prevent the heads from becoming power centres, were not taken lightly by his community.