Umadevi wife of late Dr. M M Kalburgi a scholar of Vachana literature and an activist who was shot dead on August 30, 2015, has identified his killer. The shooter is Ganesh Miskin, who is already in judicial custody in the murder case of Gauri Lankesh. Following the order of the High Court, an identification parade was organised by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) Karnataka, in front of the Tehshildar of Dharwad on July 17, 2019. Umadevi and Peer Baasha the supervisor of the construction site adjoining to the house of Kalburgi where he was shot, were asked to identify the perpetrator. In a similar identification parade earlier, both Uma Devi and Baasha had identified Praveen Chatura as the one who accompanied Miskin and waited for him on the bike outside the house of Kalburgi.
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Earlier, in August 2018, the SIT had named Ganesh Miskin, a member of a Hindutva extremist organisation Sri Rama Sene, as the shooter in the case. Sri Rama Sene has been maintaining that they are not involved in the case but they were seen vehemently protesting against the writer at several occasions before he was assassinated. Miskin was arrested in July on suspicion of being the person who rode the motorcycle pillion with Gauri Lankesh's assassin, Parashuram Waghmare. However, as Newsclick has reported earlier, Miskin during the investigation in this case, had named Amol Kale, an important culprit in all the cases as a shooter of Kalburgi. Miskin, Waghmare and all the others who are arrested so far were recruited by Kale, who is the former convenor of the Hindu Janajagruti Sanstha (HJS).
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The case of M M Kalburgi was initially handed over to the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of Karnataka and there were no developments in the investigations for four long years. It had named Shankar Narayan alias Kaka, who is dead as the shooter. The case has now been transferred to the SIT.
Kalburgi was a prolific writer and a researcher of Vachana literature. His scholarship was influenced by the 12th century philosophy of Basavanna and the Vachana literature that also became the backbone of the Lingayat Movement. The Lingayat Movement contended that the Lingayat community is not a part of Hinduism. The Vachanas, which are the backbone of the Lingayat belief system, were written to critique the oppressive social order that was, and still is, governed by Hinduism. The Vachanas and Vachanakaras (composers) were attacked by many then for being provocative by challenging the oppressive social order. He just like the Vachanakaras were for the orthodoxy now had become a thorn in the flesh of the HIndutva forces who finally assassinated him in the broad daylight.
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Santan Sanstha and its splinters are being named to be the mastermind behind the assassinations of, Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi and Lankesh. SS as had openly attacked the other three anti-HIndutva voices also had launched a vilifying campaign against Kalburgi. For e.g. Sanjay Jha, an advocate associated with the SS had referred to Kalburgi in one of his statements that he issued defending SS and blaming everyone who pointed towards SS. In his statement, he had said, “Sanatan Sanstha works to prevent denigration of Hindus’ deities. Professor Kalburgi had talked about peeing over ‘Shiva-linga’. It hurt religious sentiments of Hindus. Today, Hindus’ religious sentiments are constantly hurt in the name of freedom of expression. Can you agree with hurting religious sentiments of others? It is now time to decide how much freedom of expression should be given. In fact, it has become necessary to redefine the term ‘freedom of expression’.”
As Newsclick had reported then, in June 2014, Kalburgi was addressing an event on superstitions, and in this event, he had referred to remarks made by Jnanapith awardee U R Ananthamurthy about idol worship in a collection of essays called Bettale Puje Yake Kudadu Published in 1996. In an essay in the book, Ananthamurthy recounts a childhood experience in which he urinates on a particular deity of the village, in a bid to challenge his traditional upbringing that said everything was sacred. This episode was referred to by Kalburgi when he made a speech at this event.
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Jha was referring to this episode. Taking Kalburgi’s speech and Ananthamurthy's anecdote completely out of context, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and others like them had protested, labelling both the writers anti-Hindu. Waghmare for example during the investigation while confessing to have shot Gauri Lankesh had said that he was made to watch Lankesh’s anti-hindutva speeches and was made to believe that Lankesh got to be killed to save HInduism. This is in fact what Miskin also had said while talking about how he was recruited by Amol Kale- it was for a mission to save Hinduism.