In a shocking incident, M. M. Kalburgi (77) — veteran Kannada writer and former Vice-Chancellor of Kannada University, Hampi — who was known for his strong stand against superstitious practices and right-wing groups, was shot dead by two unidentified persons at his house in Kalyan Nagar here at 8.40 a.m. on Sunday.
According to his family members, Prof. Kalburgi was speaking on his cellphone when someone knocked on the door of his house. When he opened the door, Prof. Kalburgi was shot at from a point-blank range on his forehead. The bullet pierced through his head.
His daughter, Roopadarshi, said that after hearing the gunshots, they rushed to the verandah and saw Prof. 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.
Along with Ms. Roopadarshi, Prof. Kalburgi’s wife, Umadevi, and grandson were in the house when the incident occurred. There was no clue about the assailants as there are no eyewitnesses.
Hubballi-Dharwad Commissioner of Police, Ravindra Prasad, said that a special team, headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police and comprising five inspectors, had been formed to investigate the case.
The police had provided security to Prof. Kalburgi as he was facing threats for his bold stand on various issues, including his comments on idol worship. However, Prof. Kalburgi had recently requested the police to withdraw the armed guards deployed at his house, Mr. Prasad added.
Meanwhile, sources in the police said that the role of fringe elements in Prof. Kalburgi’s murder was being suspected. The manner in which he was murdered matches that of rationalist leader, Govind Pansare, of Kolhapur.
Interestingly, Pansare was a close associate of Prof. Kalburgi, they said.
The CCTV camera installed at Kalyan Nagar has recorded the movement of two youths aged between 24 and 28, wearing black clothes and riding a motorcycle, in the area. But it would be premature to say anything now, the sources added.