The following statement against the murder of Professor Kalburgi was issued by Academics for Democracy, a forum of academics based in Chennai.
As a group of academics and scientists who are involved in various ways towards promotion of democratic values, we wish to condemn the murder of Prof. M. M. Kalburgi, who was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on August 30th , in strongest possible terms.
Prof. Maleshappa Madivalappa is a well known writer in Kannada and a former Vice Chancellor of Hampi university, who raised his voice against religious malpractices and superstitious ideas on several different occasions. He is an authority on vachana sahitya, whose collection of research articles titled Marga were academically acclaimed. He was awarded the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award in 2006 for Marga.
This murder cannot be treated as an isolated incident, but has to be seen as a part of larger attempt to muffle any voices that speak in favour of critical thinking and rationalism in this country. On 20th August 2013, Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, president of Maharashtra Andha Shraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, was shot dead by two ‘unidentified gunmen’. Com. Govind Pansare was attacked by gun wielding assailants on 20th of February 2015. The subsequent inability to identify and act against the perpetrators in both the cases, either out of design or incompetence, have led to a scenario in which perpetrators of such actions and their supporters stand emboldened enough to issue celebratory statements and further threats. It is not a mere coincidence that these groups or individuals also stand close to parties whose politics thrive on communal hatred. This has been witnessed in the cases of remarks by members of outfits like Bajrang Dal and the Shanknaad team, which maintains the facebook page of Dr. Subramanian Swamy.
One should also realise that while fringe groups or lone individuals might be responsible for the actions described above, police action against writers like Yogesh Master, who was arrested for allegedly hurting Hindu sentiments, also deserve to stand equally condemned.
We further wish to reaffirm our commitment towards promotion of critical thinking, scientific temper and rationalist thought, which are essential for functioning of any society that strives to be a democracy. We refuse to bow down to wishes of any organization or group which seek to hinder our activities towards promotion of rational and critical thinking. We also wish to express our condolence to the family, friends and well wishers of Prof. Kalburgi.
- Police and CBI should act promptly and arrest the murders of Prof. Kalburgi, Dr. Dabholkar and Com. Pansare at earliest.
- We also further demand that the Karnataka and Maharashtra governments to act promptly and ensure the safety of activists and writers like Prof. K. S. Bhagwan, Narendra Nayak and Bharat Patankar who face similar threats.
Alok Laddha, Sudhir Chella Rajan , Anandhi Shanmugasundaram, V S Sunder and Sundar Sobers on behalf of Academics for Democracy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu