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Kalburgi murder: probe expands to Maharashtra

Karnataka’s probe into the murder of rationalist M.M. Kalburgi in Dharwad on Sunday has expanded to Maharashtra as investigators are examining if there are links with the murders of anti-superstition campaigners Narendra Dhabolkar in Pune in 2013 and Govind Pansare in Kolhapur in February this year.

Special teams from the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the State police and Dharwad police have reached Pune and Kolhapur and are collating information with investigators there on the weapons used and the modus operandi.

Police sources said a 7.65 mm country-made weapon was used to kill Kalburgi and the same kind was used in Dabholkar’s murder. “We have recovered bullet casings from Kalburgi’s house and have sent them for ballistic analysis. We are awaiting the report to compare it with the one in the Dabholkar case to see whether a similar weapon was used,” a senior official said.

The weapon used was similar and the modus operandi was alike, a senior official said. The only difference is that Kalburgi was shot dead at his house, but in the other two cases the victims were targeted when they were on their morning walks, he added.

Sources said analysis Sources said analysis of call detail records of rightwing elements in the State had not thrown up any significant leads. So the focus was now on fringe elements in Maharashtra.

Police to keep a watch on Bajrang Dal activist Bhuvith Shetty

An alleged Bajrang Dal activist, Bhuvith Shetty, who had posted a tweet soon after Kalburgi’s murder threatening that writer K.S. Bhagwan was the “next” target, was arrested on Monday but released later on bail. He had earlier been involved in cases of rioting and is known for posting abusive comments on social media.

Superintendent of Police of Dakshina Kannada, Sharanappa S.D., said that the police would keep a watch on him even after his release on bail, but is that enough to curb elements which use the social media to make brazen threats and abusive remarks against writers and academics?

Several of those, mainly from right wing fringe groups, arrested and let off on bail in the past for posting such messages continue to do the same and even criticise complaints against them as an attack on freedom of expression.

Social media cell needed

Ironically, more than half the cases registered in 2014 under the IT Act, 2000, were under Section 66A for defamatory content, which was recently struck down by the Supreme Court. None of the cases has seen any progress and even the “slight hope” of a conviction isn’t there, according to police officers.

For instance, V.R. Bhat, arrested for posting a “rape threat” against progressive activist Prabha Belavangala, is out on bail. Ms. Prabha said that Mr. Bhat had returned to social media. Media adviser to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Dinesh Amin Mattu, who had also faced several threats said there was a pressing need for the police to develop a social media cell to monitor content.

“There are a set of people identifiable, spewing venom on these platforms” he said, adding that there should be a public debate on such abuse in the context of freedom of expression and Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000 being scrapped.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 3:29:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/kalburgi-murder-probe-expands-to-maharashtra/article7604955.ece

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