A leader at the forefront of the Lingayat agitation demanding a separate religion status has suspected that the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh and academician M.M. Kalburgi could be linked to their support for the cause.
The former IAS officer S.M. Jamdar, one of the leaders of the movement, said on Friday that “enough blood had been shed” of whoever propagated the cause of a separate religion status for Lingayats.
“I am also facing a threat for spearheading the movement and the government has provided me police security from September 10,” he said.
A month before she was killed, Gauri had reportedly published a 21-page edition, supporting the cause for a separate religion for Lingayats.
“Mr. Kalburgi too was a supporter of the Lingayat movement. Another supporter and writer Linganna Satyampet too became a victim,” Mr. Jamdar said.
He added that their demand to be recognised out of the ambit of Hinduism had angered many.
Taking a dig at Pejawar seer Vishwesha Tirtha Swami, who has said that as Lingayats are the worshippers of Shiva they cannot claim themselves as non-Hindus, Mr. Jamdar said that Lingayats were not part of Hindu society for over 850 years. He said that the Lingayat concept of Shiva was markedly differently from the Hindu one. He challenged all those opposed to their demand for a public debate. “Let the debate be held in the Banquet hall of Vidhana Soudha that is located between the judiciary and the legislature,” he said.
An expert committee, comprising five members each from the Veerashaiva and Lingayat camps, was to have been formed to determine whether the separate religion should be called Veerashaiva-Lingayat or just Lingayat.
“It is still not formed as the other group has not given a list of experts from their side,” Mr. Jamdar added.
‘Lingayat issue one angle in probe’
The support of both M.M. Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh for the movement for a separate Linayat religion status is suspected to be one of the reasons why they may have been branded “anti-Hindu”, sources in the investigation said.
“Right now this is a matter of conjecture that their support to the Lingayat movement may have been interpreted in a certain way, angering certain sections. But the true motive of the murder can be ascertained only after the arrest of the assailants in either of the cases,” said a senior official probing one of the murders.