- Govind Pansare’s wife (in pink) leading the protest march. Credit: Siddharth Varadarajan
The brutal murder of the Kannada scholar Dr. M. M. Kalburgi in August last year had resulted in a sharp reaction from Indian intellectuals, literary scholars and artists. Earlier rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar was killed in Pune and Comrade Govind Pansare in Kolhapur in Maharashtra. Reacting to these attacks on intellectuals, several artists and writers had returned their awards to the awarding bodies as a way of protest.
Though in none of the three cases the respective state governments have been able to get to the bottom of these attacks, there has been some progress in the Dabholkar murder case. Despite appeals from individuals and concerned bodies from all parts of the country and even outside, the investigation in Dr. Kalburgi’s murder has made negligible progress.
In order to protest the government’s indifferent attitude to such an important case and to remember Dr. Kalburgi, a silent walk is being staged in Dharwad on the 30th of August, the day that marks a year since the tragic killing. Over 90 organisations from Karnataka and a similarly large number of orgaisations from outside have come together to hold the Silent Walk and a public meeting following the march.
The organizations that have converged on this issue include cultural bodies, student organizations, literary associations, professional unions, women’s organizations and various colleges and publishing houses. Important literary figures participating in the march range from octogenarian poet Channavir Kanavi to the teenage award winning writer Muddu Theerthally. Writers from several states, ranging from Punjab to Kerala will come together in Dharwad on the morning of the 30th. Similarly, the spouses of the three victims of intolerance will be present at the beginning point of the Silent Walk. It is expected that over 10,000 individuals will participate in the protest.
Local organizers of the event have received messages from several important thinkers and social activists from across the country. Among the important speakers at the Open Meeting following the Silent walk will be writer and editor, Antara Dev Sen, media persons Kumar Ketkar and Siddhartha Varadrajan, novelist Rajan Khan, poet Sanjeev Khandekar, film artists Anjum Rajbali.
Nearly a thousand literary persons from Karnataka will arrive in Dharwad on the 30th to participate in the protest and eminent scholars like Rahmant Tarikere, Rajendra Chenni, Narahari Balasubramanyam, Chandrashekhar Patil (Champa), B. Suresh, K. S. Bhagwan, Muzaffar Asadi, Sarju Katkar, T. R. Chandrashekhar, G. Rajashekhar, and many others will address the meeting to be held at the Town Hall located on the R. L. S. Campus. A compilation of essays about Dr. Kalburgi will be released on the occasion.
A similar protest was organized in Maharashtra on the 20th August to mark Dr. Dabholkar’s memory. The growing restlessness and unease among intellectuals about government’s indifference to the attacks on intellectuals is likely to be given full vent during the public meeting. Given the scale of the protest, all eyes remain focused on Dharwad on the 30th August.
Prof. Ganesh Devy, writer and activist, is founder director of the Bhasha Research Centre and has chaired the People’s Linguistic Survey of India.