DHARWAD:Noted Kannada scholar and rationalist M M Kalburgi (77) was shot dead at his residence in Kalyan Nagar here on Sunday morning.
Kalburgi, a former vice-chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi, has had run-ins with traditionalists for his strong views on social and religious matters. Some of his articles and arguments also invited the wrath of the Lingayat community.
Police said two unidentified men came to his house around 8.40 am and knocked on the door. When Kalburgi’s wife Umadevi opened the door and asked what they wanted, one of them said he was Kalburgi’s student and wished to see ‘sir’. Then Umadevi called Kalburgi and went inside. Kalburgi, who was speaking over the cell phone, opened the door and came out. Within two minutes he was shot from a point-blank range on his forehead and chest.
Kalburgi, who started bleeding profusely, fell down. The assailants fled the scene on their two-wheeler. One of them was wearing a black shirt and black pants, and the other a blue shirt with black lining. Sources said another person who accompanied the assailants had revved the bike to muffle the sound of the gun shots.
“We heard two shots and rushed to the verandah to see what had happened. My father was lying in a pool of blood. On hearing our screams, neighbours rushed to our house and shifted my father to a hospital where he was declared brought dead,” said Roopadarshi, Kalburgi’s daughter.
Kalburgi’s wife, daughter and grandson were inside the house at the time of the incident.
At first, Kalburgi was rushed to a private nursing home and from there to the district hospital where he was declared brought dead. The bullet had pierced his head, and the police have recovered a bullet from the scene.
A teenager, who is a guard at an apartment nearby, said he too heard the shots and immediately afterwards women screaming. He said he then saw two men zooming on a motorbike via SBM Road. The pillion rider was wearing a black dress, while the rider was wearing a mask, he said.
As the news spread, a large number of people, including Kalburgi’s friends, colleagues, admirers and members of various organisations, rushed to the district hospital.
His mortal remains are kept at the Karnatak College ground for the public to pay homage. According to family sources, the final rites will be performed on Monday at 11 am.
Vidyagiri police have registered a case and are investigating. Commissioner of Police Ravindra Prasad told reporters that a special team has already swung into action.
Home Minister K J George on Sunday said there were demands for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). “We are looking into those demands and the chief minister will make an announcement on Monday,” he said.
“It is a shocking incident. For the first time, a noted writer has been shot dead in the state. We have taken it very seriously and the accused will be arrested soon,” George told Express.
Stating that it is too early to comment on the possible reason for the murder, he said special teams have been formed to probe the case and the officers are looking into all angles.