Kalburgi’s death: Accidental death of an anarchist?


By Swati Gilotra

World Hindi Conference celebrates solidarity and a kind of language universalization in unthinkable ways. However, a stronger irony is prevalent on the same note. Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, eminent Kannada poet who was also the former VC of Hampi University, was shot dead on August 30.

77-year-old  M.M. Kalburgi was killed by two young men who came to his house claiming to be his students. “Dr Kalburgi’s wife left the youth in the house hall with her husband and went to kitchen, when she heard gunshots,” a police officer said. Thereafter, the assailants fled the scene on motorbike.

Picture Credit : atheistrepublic.com
Picture Credit : atheistrepublic.com

As a form of protest, Chandrashekhar Patil, Kannada poet, professor and a former colleague of Kalburgi, and Hindi writer Uday Prakash have decided to give up their literary awards. Patil has returned his honor to the state government. He gave up on Pampa Award, which is the highest literary award in Karnataka, and a cheque of 3 lakh, shawl and plaque which he had received.

M.M. Kalburgi’s murder is being compared to Narendra Dabholkar’s murder in 2013. Narendra campaigned for eradication of superstition. He was eventually shot dead in Pune by unidentified miscreants on motorcycle while he was out on a morning walk. In February 2015, rationalist and communist leader Govind Pansare was killed in the same state in similar circumstances. He was also a supporter of the Anti-Superstition Bill and Black Magic Act which was passed in Maharashtra in 2013.

Kalburgi’s murder has raised many eyebrows and questions pertaining to the reason of his assassination. He often courted controversies for his blunt remarks on idolatry, angered the orthodoxy by challenging Hindu ideology to extremes. But we need to think about the word superstition as what is the definition of the term in the true sense. Is superstition made by the people or are we continuously building a world in which, according to our own beliefs we create and manipulate, as per our needs? As the quote by Friedrich Nietzsche goes:

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.

As the quote says, not adhering to the rules and norms of the society and questioning the well-established norms is not welcomed by the society. Their voices are critiqued to the extent that they are ultimately muffled. Is superstition something which stands unquestionable or is it something which the society every now and then breaks and recreates?

It is true that Kalburgi may have hurt the sentiments of the people who consider Hinduism sacred and revere it blindly. But are we in some way forgetting to question? Do we take everything as already established and hence unquestionable? The debate which people like Kalburgi initiate is often left unanswered. Are the people who defend their position not ready to accept criticism?

Should people keep their ideologies to themselves or they should take it to extremes like IS which forces people to follow their ideology? Should they speak out, debate, talk and argue why certain things are the way they are? Thinking about the world around us we find social media that encapsulates us. Twitter, Facebook and many others make it a pretty loud fact. We all do express ourselves, our opinion, and our beliefs however vague or well organized they may be, through these mediums.

Then why do people like Kalburgi are dealt with in such an animalistic way? This is certainly not the loss of a life. Our nation has lost a scholar, who was playing the role of a father, son, and husband for his family members. Can we justify an act of killing on the pretext of religious fanaticism?