Kannada writer was at the centre of controversies

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah presenting 'Basavashree' award to M.M. Kalburgi in 2013. File Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

M.M. Kalburgi, who was shot dead here on Sunday morning, was an erudite scholar and an authority on the Vachana literature. But at the same time, he was often in the news for his rational research findings, which led to controversies and conflicts, with the right-wing groups taking exception to his views.

Though Prof. Kalburgi was an expert in realms like ancient scripture, Halegannada, grammar, literature, culture, and folk arts among others, his stubborn nature landed him in controversies. Some of his observations did not go well with certain organisations, including his own community groups and religious mutts. There were occasions when his community members and others protested against him.

In 1986-87, Prof. Kalburgi’s questioning of the divine origin theory of Chenna Basavanna, one of the early propagators of the Sharana movement of 12th century, triggered a controversy. Several members of the Lingayat community held protests against Prof. Kalburgi. The protest was led by senior writer Vrushabhendra Swamy, who incidentally was also Prof. Kalburgi’s teacher in university.

However, the protest led to a debate on the freedom of speech and expression. Prof. Kalburgi’s supporters had held a meeting under tight police protection. He incurred the wrath of rightist organisations when he said Hinduism was not a religion. His condemnation of the celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi by followers of Basava philosophy had come under the scanner.

He had maintained that worship of Ganesh idol was born out of myth and had no backing in the texts.

Special team to probe Kalburgi murder

Hubballi-Dharwad Commissioner of Police Ravindra Prasad said M.M. Kalburgi, who was shot dead at his home here on Sunday, had recently requested for withdrawal of guards at his house. A special investigation team, headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police and comprising five inspectors, had been formed.

His family members said Professor Kalburgi, former Vice-Chancellor of Kannada University, Hampi, was speaking on his cellphone when someone knocked on the door of the house. When the door was opened, he was shot in the forehead. The bullet pierced his head.

His daughter, Roopadarshi, said that on hearing the sound of the gunshots, they rushed to the veranda and saw Professor Kalburgi lying on the ground. He was first rushed to a private hospital and from there to the District Civil Hospital, where he was declared brought dead. Professor Kalburgi’s wife, Umadevi, and grandson too were in the house. There is no clue about the assailants. There are no eyewitnesses.

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Printable version | May 10, 2022 12:14:58 am |