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Kalburgi’s death: Accidental death of an anarchist?

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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?

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Uday Prakash says BJP is trying to scuttle award wapsi ahead of UP elections

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award wapsi

Jaipur: BJP government is trying to stop the award wapsi movement following the upcoming UP elections which are due early next year, Uday Prakash said on Saturday.

He was the first writer to return his Sahitya Akademi award, sparking a nation-wide debate on intolerance.

Uday Prakash said that the recent decision of some of the writers to take back the award smacks of politics. The poet said that the suicide of a Hyderabad University student has maligned the image of the government and it is trying to make it up by convincing writers to retrieve their awards.

“The suicide of the Hyderabad student had damaged the image of the BJP government. Hindus are turning it into a caste war. I also foresee that since the Uttar Pradesh elections are due, the government is wooing the writers to take back the award,” said Uday Prakash, adding that he wouldn’t reclaim his award.

The poet also said that the decision of some of the writers to reclaim the award will dampen the civil society movement, and felt that they could have delayed the announcement.

“The decision of some of the writers to take back the award came a bit early. This is going to weaken the civil society movement. The writers should have reviewed whether anything substantial was done by the government or not,” he said.

Citing the suicide of a Dalit student in Hyderabad, he asserted that intolerance is still high in the country, and writers have to address this issue.

“It’s not just about Sahitya Akademi, intolerance is happening in Hyderabad and other institutions across the country. Writers can’t keep quiet in this atmosphere,” he felt.

The Sahitya Akademi claimed on Thursday that two writers, including Nayantara Sahgal, have agreed to reclaim their awards. However, Sahgal has denied this.(IANS)

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No connection between Pansare, Dabhodhar, Kalburgi murders, says govt

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New Delhi: While political pundits in India attributed the poor performance of the BJP in the Bihar polls to the ‘growing intolerance’ and the killing of rationalists Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi, the government in the Centre on Wednesday said, the gruesome incidents were not connected.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told Rajya Sabha that as per available information, there is no report to suggest any linkage/connection between the murders of Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi.

Speaking during the Question Hour, he further clarified that there was no proposal to outlaw the right-wing group Santhan Sanstha.

Santhan Sanstha came into the fore for all the wrong reasons when one of its activists was arrested for his alleged involvement with the murder of Pansare.

However, Sanathan Sanstha admitted that the accused was its member, but it rubbished any party’s role in the killing.

Rijiju further said that law enforcing agencies are constantly monitoring the activities of the organisation which are said to spread tension. The government is committed to ensuring maintenance of peace and communal harmony in the country, he added.

A left-wing politician and author, Pansare, was shot on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.  While Dabholkar was murdered on August 2013, Kalburgi was shot on August this year.

Several Sahitya Academy award winner denounced their prize for the government’s inaction to take speedy action against the culprit.

The government’s alleged failure to contain the situation drew flak from several quarters of the civil society. Besides, the ‘award wapsi‘ programme, there were other rallies and marches to protest the deaths.

The Lalu-Nitish coalition in Bihar made good use of the situation to stop the BJP juggernaut and leapfrogged the NDA to assume power in Bihar.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Social boycott to be abolished in Maharashtra

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Mumbai: Maharashtra would soon be India’s first state to come up with a law condemning the act of social boycott by caste panchayats on families or individuals.

Any action pertaining to social boycott has been ruled as a crime according to the draft of the act –‘Maharashtra Prohibition of Social Boycott Act, 2015’, which was published on the state government website on Wednesday.

The heinous practices of the caste panchayats had been protested against by rationalist Narendra Dabholkar before he was murdered in Pune. Several activists and academics have also raised their voices for a law against the practice going on for years.

Maharashtra, in recent times saw an increased number of social boycott incidents and violence pushed by the caste panchayats when their rules weren’t followed.

This is not Maharashtra’s first time in enacting such laws as it was also the first state in the country to pass the anti-superstition law.

The accused, according to the act, would complete trial within six months of the charge sheet being filed. If proven guilty, the accused will face seven years of jail time or Rs 5 lakh fine, or both.

The new act defines ‘Caste Panchayat’ as a registered or unregistered body formed by a group of any community, which functions inside that community to control different practices carried out there. It controls personal and societal behaviours of the community members and works out disputes collectively and ‘resolves’ them by issuing oral or written dictums

Either a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class, whichever the case needed, would have the authority to deem the offence under this act as bailable or triable.

Provision has also been made for the appointment of a Social Boycott Prohibition Officer who would detect crimes in violation of this act. The officer would also provide support to the police officers and the magistrate in their duties.

“It is a positive step from the government and we will be sending our suggestions to the draft. One of the major suggestions would be to make these crimes non-bailable. Hopefully we will succeed in it,” prominent anti-caste panchayat activist in Maharashtra, Krushna Chandgude, told The Hindu.

Advocate Asim Sarode also commended this move by the government, saying that it would encourage more activists to work in this field. Sarode had submitted his own draft to formulate an act.