The murder of Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi had take place in Dharwad, Karnataka on August 30, last year but it has had strong reverberations in Pune and Kolhapur in Maharashtra. The reason is the striking similarities the Kalburgi murder had with those of noted anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar in Pune and veteran communist leader Govind Pansare in Kolhapur.
Two unidentified persons had shot Dabholkar dead at 7.20 am on August 20, 2013 while he was on a morning walk on the bridge near Omkareshwar temple in Pune. Similarly, two unidentified persons had opened fire on Pansare and his wife Uma while the couple was returning home from morning walk on February 16, 2015. Pansare had died while undergoing treatment at a hospital on February 20. Uma had received a bullet injury and has survived. Kalburgi was shot dead on the morning of August 30, 2015 at approximately 8.40 am, at his residence in Dharwad.
The families of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi have come together demanding justice and stern action against the extremist Hindutva groups who were allegedly involved in all three cases including the Sanatan Sanstha whose followers have been arrested in connection with the murders of Dabholkar and Pansare.
Hamid, son of Narendra Dabholkar said, “We are in Dharwad now to participate in a silent march to condemn the killing of Kalburgi. It is sad that three intellectuals were murdered in the span of two years with a similar modus operandi and still their assailants have not been arrested.”
Without naming Sanatan Sanstha, Hamid said, “Even after the murders, there are certain groups who are running a campaign to spread hatred about Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi. When will the government take strong steps against such organizations? Is the government waiting for more murders?”
In July, Dabholkar’s Maharashtra Andhshraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS –the Committee for Eradication of Superstition) launched a nationwide awareness campaign to protest against “government apathy” in apprehending the killers of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi. Besides, the Maharashtra Basav Parishad and Vachan Academy organized a state level conference in Nigdi to spread his thoughts.
All three — Kalburgi, Dabholkar and Pansare — had taken a strong stand against superstition and radical Hindutva forces. Activists strongly believe there is a link between the three murders. During programmes organized on the occasion of third death anniversary of Dabholkar on August 20, activists from various organizations held posters carrying images of all three.
Investigation agencies have been probing the alleged role of Sanatan Sanstha in the murders including the Kalburgi case. On June 10, this year, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Sanatan Sanstha seeker Dr. Virendra Tawade in Dabholkar murder case. The special investigation team (SIT) probing the Pansare murder case had arrested Sanatan Sanstha seeker Sameer Gaikwad on December 14, 2015. The SIT has received permission from the court to take Tawade into custody to find out if he was involved in Pansare’s murder.
Considering the similarities between three murders, CBI believes that Tawade’s role in Kalburgi’s murder case cannot be ruled out.
Sanatan Sanstha spokesperson Abhay Vartak had stated in a press release that attempts would be made to arrest its “innocent” seekers in Kalburgi murder case.