MM Kalburgi: A tragic tale of rationalism succumbing to intolerance3 min read
It has precisely been one month, since the cold blooded silencing of the voice of, one of the most renowned secularists and rationalists in the subcontinent. As the nation erupted into a helpless outcry, protesting over the loss of the prolific litterateur and research scholar, the who’s who from various fields stormed the social media, denouncing the dastardly act.
Columnists drew their disgust over the threat to free speech, while the internet was strewn with blog posts condemning the incident, worrying about the methodical targeting of the progressive seers. But slowly and steadily as the initial aftershock set in, and the melted paraffin from the countless candlelight vigils began to solidify, so did the nation’s conscience, seemingly accepting the situation and moving on. More than the death, it is this scary aftermath of the normalization, or the eventual “getting over it” scenario of the mass populous that is alarmingly apprehensive. Sadly this attitude also lies in full display, in the way in which the investigation has progressed so far.
Dr MM Kalburgi (78), renowned Kannada writer, research scholar and rationalist entered the history books as the first litterateur from Karnataka to be shot dead allegedly for his views on idol worship and Hindu rituals. Though no group or individual claimed responsibility for the shooting at point blank range, initial reports suggested that right-wing activists might be involved.
Merely, a week after the incident took place at his residence in Kalyan Nagar, Dharwad, the probe into the case had almost hit a dead end, leaving investigators clueless. The absolute callousness on the part of the investigators is glaring, taking into consideration the snail’s pace at which the probe is moving. Even after a significant period of time has passed since the Government announced about the case being taken over by CBI (Central Bureau of Investigations), it is the CID that is still investigating the case.
Also, the fact that the investigations by Karnataka police has made no headway raises fears that the probe may soon draw parallels to those into the murders of Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, which are still inconclusive. “Apart from coming out with two portraits of the assailants, we haven’t been able to conclusively establish whether the assailants spoke in Kannada or Marathi, which could have given a direction to the probe,” a senior official said in Bengaluru, adding that as the days passed hope was fading. It took one entire month for forensic experts to conclusively confirm that the 7.65 mm pistol, that was used to shoot him was a country made gun.
Upset over the delay in arrest of the killers even a month after he was gunned down, six Kannada writers recently returned their awards to the Kannada Sahitya Parishat.
It is indeed a scary predicament to witness the methodical butchering of men, who dare to engage in rational dialogue in a democracy that seems more dubious, with every fleeting moment. But what is worse, is the helplessness or the resounding feeling of cowardice that one feels at the loss of people like Kalburgi, as it further dwindles the number of people who had both the ability and the intent to blaze forward the light of truth, in the dingy, dark, desolate corridors of ignorance which is downright rigid.
There have been talks revolving about speeding the process of passing the Anti Superstition Bill in Karnataka, of which Dr Kalburgi was a staunch supporter. Some have even suggested, naming the bill after the late intellectual giant, stating that this would ensure his life’s work accounting to something.
Men like the late Dr Kalburgi, who dedicated their whole life to the propagation of truth, traversing parallel with the realms of rationality, would surely have chuckled at the thought of it.
Rounak Bose is a reporter at The Manipal Journal.
All views expressed in this article are personal.