Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Monday decided to hand over to CBI the probe into the murder of noted Kannada progressive thinker and scholar MM Kalburgi even as his body was laid to rest with full state honours.
The state Cabinet took the decision to refer the case to the central agency, a day after the 77-year-old vocal and outspoken rationalist fell to the bullets of two unidentified men at his residence at Dharwad in north Karnataka, considered the state’s cultural capital.
“We have decided along with handing over the case to CID, also to refer it to CBI,” Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister TB Jayachandra told reporters in Bengaluru after a Cabinet meeting.
“CID will immediately start the investigation, we will also write to CBI. CBI can take over any time…,” he said hours after Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had announced that the murder case would be probed by CID.
Holding that there were no proper updates from CBI on cases handed over to it earlier by the state government, Jayachandra said, “In such cases we will have to work immediately, we cannot wait for CBI. For immediate action CID will probing.
“There are some doubts and smell that is emerging, so investigation has to start immediately,” he added.
Siddaramaiah had earlier said, “We have decided to hand over the case to CID…This incident should not have happened. It is highly condemnable.
“Whoever is behind this, we will catch them and punish according to law,” said the Chief Minister, who visited Dharwad to pay last respects to Kalburgi yesterday.
Home Minister KJ George said, “It will be investigated from all angles.”
As the murder shook the Kannada literary world, Dharwad saw hundreds of admirers, students and citizens pay their last respect to Kalburgi before his body was taken in a procession, with many litterateurs and religious and political leaders paying homage.
The body was laid to rest with state honours in Dharwad as per the custom of the Lingayat community.
The murder of Kalburgi has prompted the state police to provide security to some noted litterateurs, including Jnanpeeth award winner Girish Karnad and SL Byrappa, who have often faced the anger of some groups for their views on different issues.
Meanwhile, a Bajrang Dal local activist was today arrested by Bantwal police in Dakshina Kannada district for allegedly posting remarks on Twitter threatening writer KS Bhagwan for his ‘derogatory’ remarks on the Bhagavad Gita.
Bajrang Dal co-convener Bhuvith Shetty was arrested after a case was registered against him, police said.
Bhagwan had drawn the wrath of right-wing activists after he allegedly disparaged the Bhagawad Gita while speaking at a programme in Mysuru in February this year.
The Mysuru police had strengthened security outside the residence of Bhagwan in Kuvempunagar. Shetty’s tweet targeting Bhagwan for making “fun” of Hinduism had gone viral after it was circulated through Whatsapp.
Shetty later deleted the post but screen shots of the tweet had already been circulated.
Superintendent of Police SD Sharanappa said a suo motu case had been registered under section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and section 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.
Kalburgi was an associate of rationalist Govind Pansare of Kolhapur in Maharashtra, who also fell victim in similar circumstances in February, and had drawn the ire of some right-wing Hindu outfits like VHP and Bajrang Dal with his remarks about idol worship by Hindus.
He had often spoken against superstitions and courted controversies with his outspoken stand.
On Sunday, the attackers had knocked at the door of Kalburgi’s house claiming to be his students and as it was opened, they pumped bullets into his forehead and chest and fled. He died in a hospital.
Kalburgi had raised the hackles of right-wing outfits when he made certain remarks about idol worship by Hindus that were considered “derogatory” and “blasphemous” and also led to protests by them.
A winner of central and state “Sahitya Akademi” awards, he had also suggested the need for a better state anthem.
Part of his works on “Vachana”(verses)” literature had also come under criticism of the state’s majority “Veerashaiva” (Lingayat) community, a liberal Shaivism founded by 12th century philosopher, poet and social reformer Basaveshwara.