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India: SAHMAT Statement on Kalburgi’s killing - Silencing a critical voice

31 August 2015

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Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust
29, Feroze Shah Road,New Delhi-110001
Telephone- 23381276/ 23070787
e-mail-sahmat8 at

Date 31.08.2015

Statement on Kalburgi’s killing: Silencing a critical voice

In shock and horror at the murder of M.M. Kalburgi in Dharwar district in northern Karnataka, we cannot help seeing it as part of an intensifying war against critical thinking by social forces that use obscurantist belief in quest of political hegemony. The eminent Kannada writer, scholar, educationist and social campaigner has for long been associated with rationalist views which he has not hesitated to voice in public. His sharp and often acerbic comments were most often targeted at efforts to seek advantage from the retelling of history and myth for purposes of modern identity politics. Notions about the divine origin of historical figures and the growing trends of public and politicised religiosity invariably drew his scathing comment.

Like the killing of Dr Narendra Dabholkar, exactly two years ago and Govind Pansare earlier this year, the assassins have struck in broad daylight but left few physical traces. Preachers of the new religious bigotry though have left a trail of ill-intentioned and inflammatory statements that could be regarded as incitement.

The local head of the Bajrang Dal in a town of Dakshin Kannada district, has issued a celebratory statement at Kalburgi’s murder, likening it to last August’s death from illness and old age of eminent Kannada literatteur U.R. Ananthamurthy and holding out a warning to the well-known rationalist thinker and writer based in Mysore, K.S. Bhagwan, that he could be the next target.

We see the speculative remarks from local police in Dharwar about a supposed property dispute involving Kalburgi’s widowed daughter as an effort to distract attention from the heinous crime and prepare a prospective alibi for their inability and lack of will in pursuing the murderers.

Kalburgi’s killing comes even as police report a complete lack of progress, or even of credible clues, in the Dabholkar and Pansare murders. It comes as individuals accused of terrorist crimes and murderous rioting are being shown undue leniency by both prosecutors and the judiciary, because the colour of their violence accords with the political ideology that today rules the country.

We condemn the heinous killing of Kalburgi and call on all forces that stand for a sane and just social order to mobilise in the quest for justice.

M.K Raina, Ram Rahman, Vivan Sundaram, Prabhat Patnaik, Sukumar Murlidharan, DN Jha, Sohail Hashmi, MMP Singh, Chanchal Chauhan, Madangopal Singh, Vishnu Nagar, Asad Zaidi, Sanjeev Kumar, Irfan Habib, Shireen Moosvi, Manmohan, Shubha, Utsa Patnaik, Mihir Bhattacharya, Sashi Kumar, Jayati Ghosh, Geeta Kapur, Indira Arjun Dev, Indira Chandrasekhar, Kanishka Prasad, Kumkum Sangari, Lata Singh, Madhu Prasad, Parthiv Shah, Prabhar Shukla, Rakhshanda Jalil, Veer Munshi, Vishwamohan Jha, Zoya Hasan,