Indian scholar who criticised idol worship killed

By AFP
Published: August 31, 2015
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Kalburgi, 77, regularly spoke out against superstitions and had questioned the worth of idol worship by Hindus. PHOTO: SANTOSH SAGAR/ THE HINDU

Kalburgi, 77, regularly spoke out against superstitions and had questioned the worth of idol worship by Hindus. PHOTO: SANTOSH SAGAR/ THE HINDU

BANGALORE: An Indian scholar who had spoken out against idol worship and angered hardline Hindu groups was shot in the forehead after opening the door of his home on Sunday morning and later died in hospital, police said.

Indian scholars on Monday condemned the execution-style killing of leading scholar, M M Kalburgi, an academic and writer from southern Karnataka state.

The motive for the killing is unknown, but Kalburgi, who was 77, had been given police protection in the past after receiving death threats from Hindu hardliners.

“Security cover was withdrawn last year on Kalburgi’s insistence, as he wanted to be accessible by anyone being a public figure and popular in literary and social circles,” Karnataka additional director general of police Alok Mohan told AFP.

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Kalburgi, who taught at Kannada University in Karnataka, regularly spoke out against superstitions and had questioned the worth of idol worship by Hindus, who form the majority in deeply religious India.

Writers and scholars expressed outrage as they gathered in the state’s literary heartland of Dharwad on Monday for his funeral as well as in the state capital Bangalore.

“He was known to create controversies and make sharp observations against certain practices and beliefs which he thought were superstitious,” actor and playright Girish Karnad told reporters.

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“Everyone has a right to have his opinion. You can agree, disagree with him and we have a democracy where people can speak out,” he also told the NDTV network.

Baraguru Ramachandrappa, who like Kalburgi wrote in the Kannada language of southern India, said his friend was well known for “criticising certain practices and beliefs.”

“Even if people differed with him and his ideology, killing him is not acceptable,” Ramachandrappa said.

Dharwad police commissioner Ravindra Prasad said police were studying CCTV footage that showed “two youths moving on a motorbike” away from the house after the murder.

Kalburgi’s killing sparked protests in the town on Sunday, with colleagues calling for justice and the right to freedom of expression.

But it also brought celebration form some hardline Hindu groups on social media.

The killing comes two years after another leading rationalist thinker, Narendra Dabholkar, was shot dead by two gunmen as he was taking his morning walk in the western city of Pune. No one has been convicted of the murder.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Sep 1, 2015 - 12:19PM

    I remember the world leading physicist Prof Stephen Hawking once lecturing in India strongly criticizing the humbug of astrology which still to this day is widely practiced in India. In reaction to his comment there was a threatening uproar by Hindu right wingers, so go figure !Recommend

  • John
    Sep 1, 2015 - 1:19PM

    Sad loss of an intellectual.Is the killer a terrorist?Recommend

  • Hero
    Sep 1, 2015 - 1:22PM

    Stephen Hawking himself is a mental. He is related to Physics, he can tell you about creating od universe etc. But could somebody ask him how did the life came to this Universe? How Plants, Humans, animals, etc came to this universe? How monkeys came to this universe?Recommend

  • Pakistani Dude
    Sep 1, 2015 - 1:27PM

    Then they claim that there is no extremism in ‘Shining India’Recommend

  • akbar
    Sep 1, 2015 - 1:28PM

    Last line was the most saddening…Recommend

  • ajas
    Sep 1, 2015 - 1:35PM

    Pakistan has no right to thump its chest over this story, there is virtually no difference between Ideal worship and worshipping sky god, so even thought this is a big rare news in India, Blasphemy laws is the legal ways Pakistan does this every week .Recommend

  • Gurion
    Sep 1, 2015 - 1:47PM

    @Rollin & Trollin:

    I remember the world leading physicist
    Prof Stephen Hawking once lecturing in
    India strongly criticizing the humbug
    of astrology which still to this day
    is widely practiced in India. In
    reaction to his comment there was a
    threatening uproar by Hindu right
    wingers, so go figure !

    Being from India, even a whimper of that said “uproar” failed to reach me. Even at that, I put my faith in your words.
    But I do remember Hawking being treated like a film star with people queuing up for a photograph with him.
    Go figure!Recommend

  • raw is war
    Sep 1, 2015 - 2:15PM

    India has a strong tradition of scholars who criticise Hinduism and its practices. These two cases mentioned is sad, but there are thousands of Activists who have similar ideals.

    But what is he guarantee that this was not committed by Muslims to malign Hindus?Recommend

  • Mujtaba
    Sep 1, 2015 - 2:19PM

    Criticising people’s religious beliefs in a manner which is unacceptable is surely not a veyr gentlemanly thing.
    If you have a disagreement with someone’s religious beliefs, you should put the words out in a way that is logical and not counted as insolent.
    That goes for his killers as well. So, nobody would question idol worship now?Recommend

  • Point
    Sep 1, 2015 - 2:26PM

    India turning a bigger threat to world peace!!Recommend

  • vicktor d'souza
    Sep 1, 2015 - 2:50PM

    @Gurion: So what is your point ? Maybe they queued before he expounded his views on astrology !? In any case, I am sure there are still quite a few Indians who see the folly in basing their lives and lives’ decisions on where a particular celestial body is at at a particular point in time. So go figure yourself !Recommend

  • vicktor d'souza
    Sep 1, 2015 - 2:53PM

    @Hero: Well, let’s hear your insights on the mysteries of the universe (or better still, multiverses) Einstein ?Recommend

  • imran
    Sep 1, 2015 - 3:01PM

    @hero that is the point of physics. And yes you could ask him and he would give you a detailed answer to each of those questions supported by facts, observational data, and understanding. :PRecommend

  • Timorlane
    Sep 1, 2015 - 3:06PM

    I am deeply saddened by this news.
    Every person has the right to dissent
    to any religion / philosophy.

    Hindu fascist terrorism is growing in all directions from butchering and

    burning alive children, women and men in Gujarat under Modi’s leadership

    to burning down churches in Orissa to killing Hindu intellectuals in Karanatka.Recommend

  • Black
    Sep 2, 2015 - 5:29AM

    It’s unfortunate that people who speak the truth, are taken down by the extremists. All this scholar was trying to out some sense into the people who worship thousands of handmade gods instead of just one Creator. May Allah put the idol worshippers on the righteous path. Amen.Recommend

  • Gurion
    Sep 2, 2015 - 10:12AM

    @vicktor d’souza:

    Maybe they queued before he expounded
    his views on astrology !?

    Clutching at straws much?Recommend

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