QUEEN’S ROAD: On Monday, Chandrashekhar Patil returned his Pampa award, the highest literary honour in Karnataka, to pressure the government into finding the men who killed his friend and fellow writer Dr M M Kalburgi.
While he says the CID is already on it, he believes the government must act on critical issues concerning faith.
He urged the Siddaramaiah government to reopen the case relating to the death of another friend and writer Linganna Satyampete, and also pass the anti-superstition bill.
Champa, as he is popularly known, spoke to City Express about the questions the Kalburgi killing has raised.
You have said returning the award was the least you could do. Do you feel the writer community has a responsibility in ensuring that Kalburgi’s killers are brought to justice?
Well, I will not say that mine is the only way. But I do expect a lot from the literary community. I think that every writer should, in whatever manner, apply pressure on the government to step up the investigation and nab the killers.
Other writers have received death threats since Kalburgi’s murder. How do writers deal with this?
I don’t understand. He (Kalburgi) belonged to the academic world. There are so many writers’ bodies, like Kannada Sahithya Parisat, and universities. Through all this, all of them, and their vice-chancellors, have been strangely silent.
What do you think went wrong in the Linganna Satyampete case?
Well, it has been three years, and it is still shrouded in mystery, so I think it should be reexamined. In Kalburgi’s case, from what I have gathered, the investigation is on.
What happened with Kalburgi is an example of extreme intolerance. Earlier too writers’ voices have been curbed -- sometimes they have been pressured into withdrawing their works, and their books have been banned.
There should be no banning of books. The readers are the ultimate judge of the worth of a book, not the government. Any problems that one may have with a book should be publicly debated and discussed. Social awareness should be created. And we cannot expect the government to do everything. Writers, intellectuals, politicians and the rest of the people have to take responsibility. After all, we are a democracy.
Is there anything else the government should do to honour the legacy that Kalburgi represented?
There is a lot the government, the people, his students and intellectuals can do, but right now, all of it seems of secondary importance. The first thing is to step up the investigation, nab the killers, reopen the Linganna Satyampete case and pass the anti-superstition bill. Let the guilty be punished.
Do you believe Kalburgi’s death is linked to superstition?
Yes. He stood for ideas, rationality and free thinking. Agreed, the way he presented his ideas was a little provocative, but that was his individual style, not something you can hold against him.
How far would an anti-superstition law help?
The Maharashtra government has passed the law. It is not as if once a law is passed, it will be implemented fully. But it will become easier to take action against people who practise superstition and harm others. It will also help increase awareness.